BTO Cymru

Croeso i blog BTO Cymru. Welcome to BTO Cymru's blog

Friday, 26 July 2019

Club Sandwich

Henry Cook, Marc Hughes and Robin Sandham have over the past autumns been busy reading colour rings on Terns on the North Wales coast. Together with Sandwich terns from the colony at Cemlyn which has had a proportion of their birds colour ringed and with some of the Little terns from Gronant, add to our understanding and knowledge of how these enigmatic sea birds use the Irish sea.

STOP PRESS  Danish ringed Sandwich tern found 25/09/19 

Follow their ring reading this year on Twitter using @BTO_Cymru, 

Following a successful colour-ring reading effort of Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicenis at Rhos Point (Caernarfonshire) in 2017, visits were increased from late July to early September 2018 resulting in the most revealing year yet. The majority of birds (80%) were reported at Rhos Point with three other sites providing the rest. However, coverage and ease of viewing has a large bearing on this result. During this period, it is thought the North Wales coast of Liverpool Bay sees 1500-3000 birds roosting daily. A total of 123 sightings of 86 individuals were read across the sites in 2018 (41 and 32 respectively in 2017). The highest daily total was of 15 individuals read on 20/08/18.

The closest colony and only breeding site in Wales is at Cemlyn on Anglesey (52km away), however, ringing has only just started there this year. Colonies at Lady's Island Lake, Wexford, Ireland and Hodbarrow, Cumbria were the origin for two thirds of all resightings. Later in August, a higher proportion of birds from the east coasts of Scotland and England appeared including a couple of Dutch-ringed birds. This indicates a post-breeding movement of some North Sea birds presumably heading northwards and around the top of Scotland in to the Irish Sea to feed up before continuing their journey.

  A selection of phone-scoped images at Rhos Point which often aid in clinching the ring combinations (RS). 

There were inevitably some notable resightings elsewhere on the bird's migration. Most notably Red KND was sighted at Rhos Point on 24/07/18 and seen at Strand, Western Cape, South Africa on 21/10/18. Assuming it took an inshore route to the wintering grounds, this is a journey of nearly 14000km in that time. A number of other Sandwich Terns seen at Rhos Point have been resighted in the cape region of South Africa.  The oldest bird resighted was 4807 days old (13 years, 1 month), Red ECL from Inner Farne, Northumberland and seen subsequently most years in Scottish colonies. This individual has also been resighted in Namibia in 2012.

The totals included birds from the following ringing locations (direct distance in brackets to Rhos Point):
·         48 from Lady’s Island Lake, Wexford, Ireland (218km),
·         25 from Hodbarrow, Cumbria (102km) 
·         8 from Ynyslas, Ceredigion (89km)  
·         8 from Ythan Estuary, Scotland (459km)
·         5 from Coquet Island, Northumberland (266km)
·         5 from Inner Farne, Northumberland (290km)
·         2 from Forvie NNR, Scotland (460km)
·         2 from Scolt Head, Norfolk (299km)
·         2 from Netherlands (550km*)

N.B. the totals for birds on the sites-ringed chart is lower than for the sites-seen chart as feedback wasn't received for all individuals.

Red KND - photographed at Rhos Point on 24/07/2018 and resighted nearly 14000km away in Strand, Western Cape, South Africa on 21/10/2018, inshore route below. 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Welsh University Students Bardsey Trip

With huge thanks to the Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust, BTO Cymru and Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory, an event was held for students studying at Welsh universities to get together with nature, conservation and what’s out there beyond their doorstep as common ground whilst staying at the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory (BBFO) at the end of April. The universities that attended were Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea.

Over the course of our week we were spoilt with what Bardsey has to offer; the stunning scenery, constant call of Grey Seals and of course the ever-present reminder that there were a few thousand pairs of Manx Shearwaters as their cackling call carried across the whole island throughout the night. Whilst on the island we experienced practically everything the British weather can throw at us, from calm days where the sea was like a duck pond to gale force winds as Storm Gareth giving everything it got, resulting on us being stranded on the island for an extra day, which in hind sight is never a bad sight when you’re on Bardsey. 

Our week consisted of many activities from the fiercely competitive bird-race and trivial quiz to Manx Shearwater ringing and moth trapping, but what was so great about this week was that each student had something to offer with their knowledge about the natural world, meaning everyone came away learning something new, be it about the flora of Bardsey and seeing Small Adder’s Tongue or delving into Lepidoptera and learning about moths. What I can say is this trip was a huge success; it connected Welsh University students who all had a common interest and placed them in one location, long term friendships were made and most importantly we learned so much from this week.

On behalf of everyone else who attended this event I’d like to thank Steve and the rest of the BBFO staff and warden team for their hospitality. At least two students who came on this event are already heading back to Bardsey over the course of this summer to help volunteer with Manx Shearwaters. Finally, without the grant from the Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust and hard work as ever from the BTO Cymru, this week would never have taken place; let’s hope a similar event can occur next year

Here are some of the fellow attendees’ thoughts on the Bardsey Welsh University Trip

Tom Williams – 2nd year Environmental Conservation Student at Bangor University
Staying on Bardsey Island with other students from Welsh universities was a great opportunity to observe some of the Island’s ornithological specialties in a stunning landscape. It was awesome to witness thousands of Manxies shearing past the Island each day, and then be surrounded by their strange calls as they return to their burrows each night. On top of the Island’s breeding seabirds and chough, there were also plenty of passage migrants to be seen during our stay, such as Whimbrel, various warblers, Tree pipits, and Wheatears. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and has definitely piqued my interest in birds and their conservation.’

Raphael Long – 2nd year Applied Terrestrial and Marine Ecology at Bangor University
“The sound of the Manx Shearwater colony echoing every night on Bardsey will stick with me for a long time and was what really made the stay special. The week was spent doing numerous activities, and was a greatly engaging ornithological experience for me. Taking part bird ringing, doing sea watches, exploring the island to see what was there each day was wonderful and helped boost my knowledge of how an observatory is run and what the aims and objectives of an observatory are. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in conservation and ecology, the island has huge amounts of history and is great for anyone interested in not only birds but all nature!”

Lizzie Waring – 1st year Conservation student Aberystwyth.
Churning towards a battered island, seabirds adorning cliffs and ledges and swirling about your boat - an image I’d always thought unattainable for an average student, reserved for nature documentaries and Springwatch shorts. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to experience this in person, let alone the whirlwind of ecological experiences that awaited me once we reached the island. The observatory has an owl shaped pot, inviting guests to donate £1 for every ‘lifer’ seen on the island. I owe that owl quite a lot of money.
Whilst the island and its abundance of life astounds and amazes, it was the hospitality and guidance of the observatory staff that really made this trip incredible. I’d especially like to thank assistant wardens Sam and Lewis, for being so astoundingly friendly and sharing their time, skills and food with us. To see, unfiltered, what observatory life entails has been invaluable to my collective ecological experience, and I will take this knowledge to heart as I figure out what I’m going to do with my future.
One of the fastest ways to cement new friendships is on trips like this. Brushing your teeth with someone you met that morning, wandering around barefoot and dancing to bad music together as a stupidly big pot of pasta cooks. Reaching truly unholy levels of grimy and smelly, as a team, really brings you together.”

On behalf of BTO Cymru and the wardening staff on Bardsey a big thanks to the BTO Student Ambassadors who did so much to help organise and facilitate experience for their fellow students.
Photographs by Toby Carter. 

Thursday, 18 April 2019

World Curlew Day

To celebrate World Curlew day, here is a short article for you to enjoy on the names used locally across Wales when referring to the Curlew.

Your call is heard at mid-day
As a sweet voiced flute above the moor.
As the whistle of an invisible shepherd
Your call is heard at midnight
Until one hears, as your sound intensifies
The barking of your unseen dogs.
                                            R Williams-Parry

Of all Welsh birdsongs, to me, the curlew’s song is the most magical. Here in Wales it is a bird that breeds mainly in the highlands. Unfortunately, its numbers have fallen dramatically in the last thirty years. At one time it was quite a common bird during the breeding season and this is probably what is responsible for the fact that it is known by a number of ‘local’ names. Local names can generally be assigned to one of three groups; names that refer to the appearance of the bird, names that refer to its sound or names which refer to its nesting location or breeding season.

The standard Welsh name ‘gylfinir’ refers to the bird’s long beak (‘gylfin’ = beak, ‘hir’ = long). In different areas of Wales, there are variations in this name, but all being very similar - gylfinhir, glifinir, gilfainhir, Pegi big hir, gylfiniog, glifirin and glafinir. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘gylfinir fawr’ (the addition ‘fawr’ = large, differentiates it from the whimbrel).

Turning to names which describe its cry or song, we have ciarliw, cwrlig, cwrlip, chwibannwr (whistler), cwliwn, cwrlif, cwrlin, whibanwr (whistler), cyrliw, and cyrliwn.

There are two names that combine reference to the bird’s song and its habitat during the breeding season ‘chwibanogl y mynydd’ a ‘chwibanog y mynydd’ which translate as the mountain or highland whistler.

Turning to names that relate the bird to its nesting place or breeding area, the following names are used cornicyll y waun (which is also used for the lapwing) and cŵn Ebrill a cog Cwm Nant yr Eira.

The name ‘cŵn Ebrill’ = dogs of April (a name which is also used for the whimbrel) refers to the period when the bird returns to its nesting area - the middle of spring. In the same way the lovely name ‘cog Cwm Nant yr Eira’ = the Nant yr Eira cuckoo, refers not only to the time of nesting (which is the time cuckoo returns) but also locates an important breeding area in Wales, namely Cwm Nant yr Eira in Powys.

Dewi Lewis

Diwrnod Gylfinir Rhyngwladol

I ddathlu ddiwrnod rhyngwladol y Gylfinir, dyma i chi fwynhau erthygyl ar holl enwau y Gylfinir sydd yn cael ei defnyddio ar draws Cymru 

                                                                                                                           Photo John Harding

  Dy alwad glywir hanner dydd 
        Fel ffliwt hyfrydlais uwch y rhos
                        Fel chwiban bugail a fo gudd                   
                        Dy alwad glywir hanner nos;                   
                      Nes clywir,pan ddistawa sŵn                   
                   Cyfarth dy anweledig gŵn                     

                                                               R Williams Parry

O holl alwadau adar Cymru, siwr o fod mai galwad y gylfinir yw’r mwyaf hudolus.

Yma yng Nghymru aderyn sy’n nythu ar yr ucheldiroedd yn bennaf yw’r gylfinir.Yn anffodus mae ei niferoedd wedi gostwng yn sylweddol iawn dros y ddeng mlynedd ar hugain diwethaf.
Ar un adeg roedd yn aderyn eithaf cyffredin yn ystod y tymor magu a’r ffaith yma sydd wedi rhoi iddi nifer o enwau llafar gwlad. Yn fras gellir dosbarthu yr enwau llafar gwlad i dri dosbarth; enwau sy’n cyfeirio at ymddangosiad yr aderyn, enwau sy’n cyfeirio at  alwad neu gri yr aderyn ac yna enwau sy’n cyfeirio at leoliad neu dymor nythu’r aderyn.
Y mae’r enw safonol Cymraeg wrth gwrs yn cyfeirio at y pig hir sydd gan yr aderyn. Yn yr un modd ceir nifer o enwau llafar gwlad sy’n cyfeirio at yr un nodwedd amlwg yma. Ar lafar gwlad ceir  Y gylfinhir, gylfinir fawr(yr enw yma yn gwahaniaethu’r coegylfinir), glifinir, gilfainhir, Pegi big hir, gylfiniog, glifirin a glafinir.

Wrth droi at yr enwau sydd yn cyfeirio at alwad yr aderyn fe gawn; ciarliw, cwrlig, cwrlip, chwibannwr, cwliwn, cwrlif, cwrlin, whibanwr, cyrliw, a cyrliwn.

Ceir dau enw sydd yn cyfuno galwad yr aderyn â’i gynefin yn ystod y tymor magu sef, chwibanogl y mynydd a chwibanog y mynydd.

O droi at yr enwau sydd yn cysylltu’r aderyn â’i safle neu ardal nythu ceir yr enwau canlynol , cornicyll y waun (sydd hefyd yn enw llafar ar y gornchwiglen) ac yna cŵn Ebrill a cog Cwm Nant yr Eira.
Mae’r enw cŵn Ebrill (enw a ddefnyddir hefyd ar y coegylfinir) yn cyfeirio at y cyfnod pan fydd yr adar yn dychwelyd at eu safleoedd magu sef canol y gwanwyn. Yn yr un modd mae’r enw hyfryd, cog Cwm Nant yr Eira nid yn unig yn cyfeirio at y cyfnod nythu(sef y cyfnod pan fydd y gog yn dychwelyd) ond hefyd yn ei leoli i ardal benodol yng Nghymru sef Cwm Nant yr Eira ym Maldwyn. 

Dewi Lewis

Friday, 2 March 2018

Dates for your diary

Dates for your diary - Dyddiadau i'ch dyddiadur

Once again this spring we are planning on holding some member and volunteer days at various venues around Wales. These will be relaxed events where we will update participants on BTO’s activities across Wales, provide some free training, a friendly quiz, and (weather permitting) a bit of birding. They are open to all existing members and volunteers and anybody new who wants to get involved with the BTO for the first time.

.Saturday 24th March, Dyfi Osprey Centre, Machynlleth
Sunday 25th March, RSPB Conwy.
Saturday 14th April, Pembrey Church Hall, Pembrey, Carmarthenshire
Saturday 21st April, Chirk Castle, Chirk

All events start at 10am and tea and cofee will be available from 9;30. Bring suitable clothing for an outdoor walk.

Further details and bookings please contact your Regional Representative or the BTO Cymru office. Prior booking essential to make sure we have enough tea and coffee. 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Are you a young Birders in Wales

Are you a young birder aged between 18 and 25 in Wales?

BTO Cymru is offering a number of eligible young persons from or based in Wales a free place on one of our courses.

The BTO nationally delivers a programme of training events that cover a range of identification and survey techniques, including courses aimed at BBS and WeBS.

If you are interested please apply to Kelvin Jones at BTO Cymru (, detailing which course you would be interested in, and attaching a covering letter of why you should be considered for a place.

Final date for applications is 1st March 2018

Ydych chi'n adarwr ifanc rhwng 18 a 25 oed ac yn byw yn neu yn dod o Gymru?

Mae BTO Cymru yn cynnig lle am ddim ar rai o'n cyrsiau i bersonau ifanc cymwys sy’n byw neu sy’n dod o Gymru
Mae'r BTO yn genedlaethol yn darparu rhaglen o ddigwyddiadau hyfforddi sy'n cynnwys hyfforddiant ar sut i adnabod adar a thechnegau cynnal arolygon (gan gynnwys cyrsiau wedi'u hanelu’n benodol at waith BBS a WeBS)

Os oes gennych ddiddordeb mewn cael eich hystyried ar gyfer hyn, anfonwch gais i Kelvin Jones yn BTO Cymru (, gan roi manylion am y cwrs y mae gennych ddiddordeb ynddo, ac atodi llythyr o eglurhad am pam y dylech gael eich ystyried am le.

Y dyddiad olaf ar gyfer ceisiadau yw 1 Mawrth 201

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

New student ambassadors on the team

We have had for the past few years had a volunteer BTO Student Ambassador at 4 of the major Welsh universities. All have been keen birders and have helped fulfilled my vision of giving students a taste of BTO Survey work, by organising talks, demonstrations, visiting student fairs etc. When I get contacted by now employed graduates who now wish to engage professionally with the BTO, I think success.

Whilst Emma Cole continues to do a sterling job at Swansea, This year we have two new ambassadors.

At Cardiff Talek Renals.

"I’ve had an keen interest in most aspects of ecology from an early age; but in relation to birds I would say that I gained most of my ornithological experience when I was on placement last year. I was working for an ecological consultancy called AECOM where I was fortunate enough to participate in CBC’s, transect surveys and a few weeks studying whooper swans in Northern Ireland

At Aberystwyth Angus Barnett

"For me the addiction to birdwatching didn’t truly spark till I started a countryside management course at the age of 16. I was captivated by the birdlife in the broads and along the Norfolk coastline where I grew up. Since graduating from my diploma I have gone on to become a bird ringing trainee, an undergraduate in countryside conservation and president of the nature society here in Aberystwyth. Although still toying with the idea, I would like to set up my own wildlife touring business when I finish university so I can share the natural world I love with others."

I look forwards to working with them both to promote the BTO and encourage students to participate in some of our surveys.