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
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.
We have a winner in the great Cuckoo race of 2016. Norfolk Cuckoo Stanley started his journey from Ivory Coast in west Africa on 7th April and 3,000 miles later, he is back in England. Stanley was tagged at Cranwich Heath, just a stone's throw away from BTO headquarters in Norfolk. He is currently just south of Yeovil in Devon. During his spring migration in 2015, Stanley stopped off in Cornwall on his way back to Norfolk. View the current progress of our tagged Cuckoos.
Four of the seven Cuckoos that we are currently following have made it into southern Europe, while the other three are on the northern edge of the Sahara desert. All seven will be making their way back to the UK in the next couple of weeks. See the latest movements for our satellite-tagged Cuckoos.
Locations received from Vigilamus on 1 April show that he had crossed the Sahara desert and was in Algeria. He didn't stay here long though and around lunchtime on 3 April he had crossed the Mediterranean and was in central western Spain. Another push north saw him reach the area just north of Zaragoza by mid-afternoon of 4 April. Follow Vigilamus and the other tagged Cuckoos as they make the final push for home.
New research involving the BTO shows how bird populations are consistently responding to the effects of climate change on two continents. The study, led by the University of Durham, analysed data on abundance collected between 1980 and 2010 from 145 common species in Europe, and 380 in North America. UK data includes records collected by volunteers taking part in the Breeding Bird Survey and its predecessor the Common Birds Census, both coordinated by the BTO.
Our seven active satellite-tagged Cuckoos are now lined up south of the Sahara, ready for this most perilous leg of their return migration back to the UK. The remaining birds include Cuckoo veteran David, tagged in Wales in 2012. Follow our birds as they undertake this huge and hazardous journey back to their UK breeding grounds.
New BTO research has used volunteer data from long-running citizen science schemes to show how the timing of bird migration to and from the UK has changed since the 1960s. Eleven of 14 species are arriving earlier than previously, and nine of 14 are now staying for longer.
This spring the BTO has joined the BBC's to Do Something Great campaign to get volunteers out and about, helping nature in as many different ways as possible. Our range of volunteer surveys really do offer something for everyone who wants to Do Something Great!
Small Copper suffered its worst year on record - falling by almost a quarter last year compared to 2014. Other widespread butterflies such as Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell also experienced a poor year, down by 21% and 44% respectively. Despite a generally poor year for butterflies some species thrived. The Marbled White and Brimstone experienced their best years on record!
To find out more about the changes recorded in other butterfly species, please visit the 2015 summary of changes table – UKBMS
The Garden BirdWatch 2015 annual results are out and show an interesting story for some of our more common garden birds, with Blue Tit, Great Tit and Blackbird numbers all well below average during the second half of 2015. It is thought that these results were due to a poor breeding season, which was caused by cold, wet weather in the spring, resulting in fewer juvenile birds. Explore the year in more detail by viewing the results for individual species.
If you can spare three minutes, we'd like you to participate in our user survey - it will help us improve the BTO website. Quickly scan the list of tasks and resources that you can do or find on the website. Choose five things that jump out as important to you. Participate in the BTO website user survey now.
Last year, with the help of volunteers across the country, we collected data on where House Martins are and how the population is faring as a whole. This year we want to take a detailed look at House Martin nests, to better understand breeding success in different areas and habitats. So, if you have House Martin nests near you, please take part.
Can you spare just two mornings during April-June to count birds on a local 1-km square for BBS? Information collected by you will help us monitor the changing populations of UK birds and will be widely used for bird research and conservation. We have a fantastic team of Regional Organisers (RO) covering most regions to help you get started with BBS, and online video tutorials talking you through how to enter your data.
Why not get in touch with your local RO now to find out where the nearest available BBS square is?
The winner of the BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year has just been announced as Nick Davies for his book Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature. Find out more about the book, the competition and the runners-up.
While we try our hardest to provide the right nest boxes for the right species, things don't always go to plan! GBWer Trevor Daniels was very surprised to see a Robin bringing nesting material to a small-hole nest box when there was a open-fronted one nearby.
While he was watching, a pair of Blue Tits decided that they were going to occupy the box instead. A standoff ensued with the Robin perched on a nearby bracket and one of the Blue Tits refusing to move from the box. Eventually the Robin disappeared, while the Blue Tit pair remained for a while before vanishing themselves!
We are recruiting volunteers for the Breeding Waders of English Upland Farmland Survey this spring. The focus of the survey is the ‘In-bye’ land below the moorland line. The survey involves making two visits to 2-km squares in the breeding season. The aim of this survey is to estimate the population size of waders and other important bird species supported by ‘In-bye’ farmland. More crucially this will provide a baseline against which to measure population changes and the effect of agri-environment scheme management.
I have just got back from a repeat bird survey of the Gulf of Mottama in Myanmar where I lead an international team of wader researchers (Guy Anderson from RSPB, Geoff Hilton from WWT, James Phillips from NE, David Melville and Chris Kelly) working with Ornithologists from BANCA which is the Myanmar Birdlife partner. The aim of the expedition? To resurvey the upper estuary which holds very large numbers of waders and is a hotspot for wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers.
This was the sixth intensive survey that BTO have been involved in since the first in 2009, so everything should have been familiar, but as with every other visit the estuary had changed shape dramatically. The main channel is rather like a snake which is constantly on the move. When I first visited it was not... read more
The BTO has teamed up with Teemill to offer a range of organic cotton clothing and accessories, proceeds of which go to funding our research. All our t-shirts, tops, sweatshirts and tote bags are printed in the UK on premium quality 100% organic cotton made in an ethically accredited wind-powered factory.
Did you know that more than 60 species of bird have been recorded using nest boxes in the UK? The 19th annual National Nest Box Week takes place between February 14th and 21st and aims to encourage us all to put up nest boxes to help our breeding birds. Our National Nest Box Week pages have lots of advice on which nest boxes to use, how to build your own nest boxes and where to place them.
Winter bird ID and WeBS (Residential, Flatford Mill, Suffolk)
Improve your winter bird ID skills and learn all about the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) on this weekend residential course for relative beginners and improvers. With a focus on waterfowl and waders, discover more about...
Unlocking the science to reveal the state of nature
David Noble takes a sober look at the latest State of Nature Report.