Thanks to the BTO's Cuckoo Tracking Project we are learning more about Cuckoo migration. There are still important questions to answer, so we have fitted four more Cuckoos with satellite tags this spring. Senan, Valentine, Tennyson and Nussey join eight existing birds, all of which should make their way south during the next few weeks. Follow their exciting journeys.More Details
Cuckoo 161321 has crossed the Sahara desert earlier than any of our previously satellite-tagged Cuckoos. He is currently in Mali on the southern edge of the desert. All twelve of the Cuckoos we are following have left the UK and are spread across five different countries. Follow and sponsor them here.
The 2015 Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) report has just been published and contains some interesting results. From the continued decline of the Turtle Dove, now down by 93% in the UK since 1994, to the upward trend in Willow Warblers in Northern Ireland, the falling number of Yellowhammers in Wales, and the huge increase in the populations of some warblers in Scotland. Thank you to the dedicated BBS volunteers who make this possible. Read the 2015 BBS report.
Our new Garden Birds and other wildlife book has now been published! Written by the BTO's Kate Risely and Clare Simm, this book is packed with information about the wildlife you can find in your garden. Get the book free when you join Garden BirdWatch, or buy for just £14.99.
During the last few weeks our Cuckoo team has been out fitting satellite tags to eight more Cuckoos. This will help to see how migration might differ between years. The team will also focus more closely on how the weather, in particular the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and its life giving, drought-busting rains, affects the timing of their migration. Follow them all as they head south.
The first of our tagged Cuckoos is on his way south. Disco Tony has left his breeding area in Wales and is currently in the New Forest, Hampshire, completing the first leg of his long journey south. During the last two weeks we have tagged a further eight Cuckoos and will launch these on our website in the next few days – You can follow all of them as their journeys unfold.
Between November 2015 and February 2016 an amazing 5,183 households across Britain and Ireland took part in our Goldfinch Feeding Survey to help determine what it is about our gardens that Goldfinches are attracted to. A preliminary analysis of the data shows that sunflower hearts were overwhelmingly the preferred option, with nyger seed coming second. Natural foods were also taken with teasel and thistle the favourites. Thank you to everyone who took part!
Tickets are now on sale for the fourth annual Spurn Migration Festival. As a partner of the event BTO will be there, come and meet us and take part in the walks and talks, experience a bird ringing demo at this top migration site, and see bird migration in action. Get your ticket for Spurn Migration Festival now.
Widely recognised for his work on the study and conservation of owls and raptors, professional ecologist Colin Shawyer has collaborated with the BTO on projects such as Project Barn Owl (1995-1997) and the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (2000-2009). As founder and co-ordinator of the Barn Owl Conservation Network (BOCN), Colin is in regular contact with Barn Owl experts across the country and oversees the annual monitoring of over 3,000 Barn Owl nest sites.
Good vole numbers predicted for 2016
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This weekend we will be out and about, with teams at Scotland’s Big Nature Festival at Levenhall Links, the Royal Welsh Spring Show in Builth Wells and at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair at Mannington Hall. If you're attending one of these events then look out for the BTO stands and ringing demonstrations.
Many summer migrants are declining and need our help, yet important knowledge gaps remain. Bridging those gaps is a fundamental aim of our BirdTrack research project. This will deliver new insights into bird population and distribution changes, habitat use, and migration patterns across a range of species in the UK and beyond. With your support, the BirdTrack research project can unlock the insights needed to answer some of the most pressing questions about our summer migrants.
The spring 2016 edition of Life Cycle, the BTO magazine for nest recorders and ringers, is now available online. This edition includes interpretation of the results from the 2015 breeding season (produced from data collected by nest recorders and CES and RAS ringers) and articles focusing on species including Starlings, Dippers, Wood Warblers, Stonechats and Wheatears.
The BTO have teamed up with Spurn Bird Observatory Trust and Next Generation Birders to find their Young Birder of The year. The winner will be decided in a final round of birdwatching at Migfest 2016. Might you have what it takes to be young birder of the year? Find out here
The latest BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey report is published today, summarising the efforts of thousands of volunteer counters between July 2014 and June 2015. Explore waterbird numbers at a wetland site near you and view the latest species trends on the updated WeBS Report Online interface. Read the report to find out which waterbirds have recently been Red listed, the story behind the rapidly increasing Crane index, waterbirds making use of milder conditions in Finland, and much more.
All of our satellite tagged Cuckoos have made it back to their breeding sites. For Vigilamus this coincided with heavy snow and a temperature of minus 5, proving too much for him to cope with, whilst for David it marked the completion of four whole migration cycles. Catch up with all of the birds here.
Five of our satellite-tagged Cuckoos have made it safely back to their breeding grounds. Stanley, Coo, Peckham, Larry and David are all back but sadly it looks like the cold spell last week claimed Vigilamus. Welsh Cuckoo Disco Tony is still on his way back and is currently in northern Spain. Keep an eye on the maps to see if he joins David back in Wales over the coming days.
The preliminary 2015 Online Ringing and Nest Recording Report is now live! The report contains the details of the >48,000 nest records and almost 986,000 ringing records recieved so far. The pages showing the timing of breeding and moult for the 15 most commonly recorded species have also been updated. The final report will be published in the summer once all submissions have been received; the longevity records and ringing totals by species will also be updated at this time.
Our satellite-tagged Cuckoos have been faring well during their spring migration this year with all seven which arrived at their wintering grounds managing to make it as far as Europe. Norfolk Cuckoo Stanley and Yorkshire Cuckoo Peckham are back at their breeding grounds. The recent cold spell may just have been too much for Yorkshire Cuckoo Vigilamus however, who faced heavy snow showers on his arrival on the north York moors. Find out more on our Cuckoo tracking pages.
We are pleased to announce that Dr Cowley has won the prize draw from the recent questionnaire looking at the Garden BirdWatch magazine Bird Table. Thank you to everyone who has filled the questionnaire in so far. If you are a Garden BirdWatcher, and haven't taken part yet, there is still plenty of time to do so.
Unlocking the science to reveal the state of nature
David Noble takes a sober look at the latest State of Nature Report.
What effect might annual releases of non-native gamebirds be having on native biodiversity?
Henrietta Pringle reveals the work behind a recent paper on gamebirds and predation