Before starting fieldwork, please read Health and Safety for Volunteer Fieldworkers, also available as a leaflet from your Regional Organiser.
The survey is based on a sample of randomly selected squares, which represent the habitats occupied by the three Chat species. This means that the best habitats for chats receive the highest sampling intensity, less ideal habitats are sampled less intensively, and unlikely chat habitats should be largely avoided. Nevertheless, chats will inevitably not be found at all sites, whether good or poorer habitat.
You can either request a square online after registering for the survey or speak to your local Regional Representative. Once the square has been allocated to you the simple user friendly web interface will allow you to print out a recording sheet which will include a map of your allocated square.
Three visits are required, about a month apart from mid April to mid May, mid May to mid June, and mid June into July 2013. Each visit should take up to 2 hours in the square spent searching appropriate habitats for any of the chats. Sites with much less suitable could take less time. Ideally visits should be done early in the morning when the birds are most active. Birds should be marked on the map and their number, sex (where known) and activity noted. There is an optional element to record the presence of some additional relatively scarce species of conservation interest, i.e. Ring Ouzel or Merlin, and if you are so minded you can record all other birds seen and submit them via BirdTrack.
In addition to the bird counts, there is an important element of habitat recording in this survey. We are anxious to identify important landscape features being used by the birds, i.e. rabbit holes by Wheatears, fence posts as song posts by Whinchat.
Should you encounter landscape, access or health and safety issues with your allocated square, it will be possible for you to choose an adjoining square. Your RR or the survey organiser can then “nudge” your square across using the on line system. However, you should try to do the allocated square wherever possible.
Use the following approach letter (in both English and Welsh) to help secure access to private land for the purpose of the survey -