Volunteer stories

We'd like to thank the 2,800 people that participate in the BBS, and give a special mention to the 291 volunteers who have surveyed their BBS square every year for over two decades!

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and we’ve asked them to tell us what they enjoy about being involved in the BBS survey.

BBS volunteer Muriel Cadwallender

"The achievement of reaching remote squares, after a seemingly vertical climb, with the reward of panoramic views of the Cheviots, singing Skylarks, ‘pipping’ pipits, calling Curlews, and Snipe drumming is all the incentive needed to keep going, year after year, to this beautiful part of Northumberland"

Muriel Cadwallender 

Vic Fairbrother BBS volunteer

"Each visit I add a few more pieces to the ever changing pattern of bird trends both here on my patch and also in the wider countryside" 

Vic Fairbrother 

BBS volunteer Heather Woodland

"I volunteered for a BBS Square in 1994 because I get a good deal of pleasure from birds and like to take part in simple field work which might aid conservation" 

Heather Woodland 

Nightingale

"It is a great way to get out and become acquainted with a small patch of the Kent countryside, a patch I would not have had access to if I had not taken on and continued the surveys"

Nick Tardivel  

Blackcap

"What I like about the BBS is that it forces me to get up early and to walk over a familiar patch.  Early morning is a special time, and as I always aim to complete the walk when the weather is favourable it is great to feel the sun’s rising warmth"

Paul Copestake  

Yellowhammer. Photo by Jill Pakenham

"I appreciate the value of persisting with an average square of farmland, to enable the gathering of data to show just how badly our farmland birds are doing"

Louise Bacon

Siskin

"I am pleased to be a small part of an important conservation tool which makes doing the survey worthwhile"

Heather Coats

Corncrake. Photo by Edmun Fellowes

"It’s great fun, it is always good to be out birding and recording birds; you never know what you will find - on one occasion I found the island’s first Lesser Whitethroat just after I finished the count"

David Jardine

Photo of Andy King BBS volunteer

"The opportunity to take part in a bird survey in beautiful surroundings, being ‘up with the lark’ as the day wakens is great reward.  So much so that I have taken on four more squares since!"

Andrew  King

Buzzard

"I often manage chats to the farmer – he is interested in the birds on his land, and always interested in what I have seen"

Louise Bacon 

Willow Warbler. Photo by Jill Pakenham

"2014 marks my 20th year of surveys. It is now part of my early summer; I love the excuse (and of course the prompt) to be up early and taking in the route and like old friends, the birds I can expect to find along the way" 

Paul Copestake 

BBS volunteer Richard Bland

"I took on an urban square in the middle of a very boring bit of Bristol. The walk past the twenty foot walls of Bristol Prison with TV cameras covering every yard is always rather fun. I have never understood whey every BTO member does not have their own square- the whole thing is a doddle- and I am back home by 9am"

Richard Bland 

Longer volunteer stories

The BBS covers a variety of habitat types, from lowlands to uplands, from urban areas to the very remote! All BBS squares are randomly allocated to ensure that the majority of habitat types in the UK are surveyed. Three long-standing volunteers have kindly provided insights into their BBS squares, the highs and lows of surveying in these habitats and what draws them back to survey 'their square' year after year.

The Uplands of Rum by Sean Morris

The Lowland Kent by Nick Tardivel

A Housing Estate in Middle England by Alan Gomersall

Call for new volunteers

We’re looking for volunteers to take part in the BBS survey. You don’t need to be a bird expert to take part but you do need to be able to identify birds by sight and call.

Take part