BTO Cymru

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

Monday, 11 July 2016

30 Not Out

Not cricket, but Ospreys.

May 2004 was memorable, for that was when Ospreys were found to be nesting in the Glaslyn valley, in Snowdonia. As I was the local police wildlife crime officer, and the coordinator of the local raptor workers, there followed for me an initial period of elation, followed by exhaustion, and ultimately depression, when the nest collapsed following an unseasonably heavy hour of rain. At this point, we found that there had been two chicks in the nest, but 10 day old birds could not survive an 80 foot fall through a pine tree.

The male “Ochre 11/98” was a part of the Rutland reintroduction programme; the female was un-ringed, but quite distinctively marked, and has since been christened “Mrs G” .

In 2005, both birds came back and three eggs were laid. Two of these hatched and were subsequently ringed before fledging. So began a dynasty. 

The un-ringed female has returned every year since. To date, 28 chicks have fledged from this nest, the latest being ringed on July 3rd. When they fledge they will bring the total up to 30.

Currently two of her siblings – “YA” and “37” - are nesting in the Kielder Forest, with “Black 80” nesting at Threave in south west Scotland.. At the time of writing, these offspring have produced 41 fledged young, with 11 of this year’s chicks waiting to fledge.

“Black 80” is currently rearing four chicks - a very unusual occurrence.

None of this information would have been available were it not for the efforts of the ringers, and all the dedicated Osprey followers and supporters who have spent so much time watching, and reading the colour rings on these wonderful birds.

Modern technology has told us so much about bird migration, but, for population dynamics like this, colour ringing is still producing the goods, allowing a legion of people to be involved and to contribute to this project. As I say to all our volunteers, you may not think your little bit of data is important, but when we pool it all together we can make meaningful science out of it.

Thanks to Heather Corfield for diligently recording all the ring sightings across Wales and those of the siblings of the original Welsh birds.

For more information about the Glaslyn Ospreys, see

BTO Cymru

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Something to Look Out For!


One of our birds has been seen at Jacobs Island in Cork Harbour, on the 17th of July.
 Potentially the first Welsh breeding
Curlew seen in Ireland. Now where are the rest?

BTO Cymru in partnership with RSPB Cymru fitted temporary GPS-VHF tags to a small number of breeding Curlew on the north Wales moors. The data provided by the tags has opened a window into how these birds use the whole landscape during the breeding season, and after this success we hope to follow-up with some more research in the future. The tags have now stopped working and have probably already fallen off: and the birds are now leaving the Moors and should be moving down to our coasts to form post-breeding flocks.

You can help us link together summer breeding populations with post-breeding movements and even wintering areas. Each bird was also fitted with a unique colour ring combination, identifying them as individuals. Please look through Curlew flocks wherever you see them, and let us know if you spot a colour-ringed bird (even if you don’t get the whole combination: others can help!).

Sightings and especially ring combinations can be reported to RSPB or directly to BTO Cymru office.

BTO Cymru: Tel 01248 383285 or email

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Lady in Red

A regular feature of this blog has been the ongoing work on Hawfinch in Wales. The Bird Atlas showed over the past 40 years an apparent shift westwards in the range of Hawfinches in the UK. Parts of Gwynedd and the Wye valley have become increasingly important for this scarce woodland bird.

Trevor and Chris Bashford in Dolgellau have the enviable luck of having a garden which is particularly favoured by the local Hawfinches. Last year they had 184 individual colour ringed birds in their garden and over 1300 sightings in total.

Their reading of the colour rings has proved invaluable with birds from the south east of Wales turning up in their garden. Yesterday Trevor had a bird with a red engraved ring. Being quite used to the usual local yellow rings and the white ones from down south, he got rather excited, and as always managed a couple of pictures.

A bit of quick internet detective work put us in touch with Dr Stuart Sharpe at the University of Lancaster. To quote Stuart:

“ Wow - this is amazing! Yes, it is one of my mine and the first sighting away from our study area in South Cumbria

BC was ringed at Sizergh Castle in Cumbria (our main site) as a juvenile female on 17th July 2015. We have not caught many juveniles at all in the three years our project has been running, and we actually radio-tagged this bird to try and get some information about natal dispersal. I will check tomorrow whether we got any data from this individual (some of our tagged birds disappeared without a trace).

Thank you again for a really amazing sighting, and for taking the time to get photos that really clinch the ID.”

So watch this space for any further updates, and thanks to Trevor and Chris for having to suffer all these Hawfinches in their garden, and more importantly for all the effort that put in reading rings.

For more on the project see

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Glamorgan BTO Nest Record Scheme Taster Day

It’s great to see that the numbers of birders taking part in the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) is on the increase. Volunteers for this important scheme, now in its 77th year, find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests across the UK, collecting vital data which are used to produce trends in breeding performance. These data help identify species that may be declining because of problems at the nesting stage, and they can also help measure the impacts of factors such as climate change on our bird populations.

But, despite a recent increase in volunteers, far more are needed and there’s a real ‘call to arms’ for more people to take up nesting, particularly here in Wales where more nest data are desperately needed.

In Glamorgan, there are currently only around a dozen active nest recorders, submitting c.800 records annually. Keen to increase those numbers and to put the Scheme on a more sustainable footing in the county, Trevor Fletcher (Rudry Common Trust), Wayne Morris (Mid & South Glamorgan BTO Rep) and I trialled a Nest Record Scheme Taster Day at Rudry Common on May 8th this year.

All three of us only have a few years’ experience of nest recording, but we felt that we’d learnt enough to be able to share the basics with new-starters and, coupled with bags of enthusiasm, we could hopefully inspire them to take up the fascinating art of nest finding and recording.  

Promoted on the BTO East Glamorgan News Blog and via social media, we attracted 5 local birders to the event. We found this to be an ideal number. It allowed us to work through the various habitats whilst staying close to each other and enabled us to share any knowledge, hints and tips with them as a group, rather than separately as individuals.

After a short indoor session, where we presented the participants with their free hazel ‘tapping stick’ (an essential tool of the nest recorder’s trade), introduced them to the NRS Code of Conduct and to some basic nest finding techniques, we were soon out in the field. We spent the morning working through woodland, finding plenty of old, or this year's, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robin nests, but sadly no active ones. Nevertheless, it was still a useful session because we were able to show the participants the best places to look for the nests of these species. Wayne excellently put the theory into practice by finding a Song Thrush on eggs later in the afternoon.

We spent the afternoon on Rudry Common where we found a couple of active Long-tailed Tit nests, a very recently predated Linnet nest (it was in pristine condition but contained broken egg shells) and a Great Tit in a natural nest hole. The latter allowed Trevor to show off his skills with an endoscope!  We also watched a Willow Warbler busily building a nest, which Trevor went back and found a week later containing eggs.

But the highlight of the day was finding a Stonechat’s nest with 5 chicks. The participants were blown away by this nest and hopefully it'll be the one that gets them hooked on nesting!

We found a Robin on eggs on our walk back to base and rounded off the day with another short indoor session, where we shared information on how to plan nest visits and complete nest records and had a quick game of 'name the nest'. This involved showing images of various nests, a quick shout out to try and name the species who’d built them and then sharing some tips about how to find that species’ nest.

We had some very positive feedback from all who attended. An email from one of the participants really does sum up being part of the Nest Record Scheme: "I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday - it added a whole new dimension to monitoring bird behaviour. Brilliant!”

The group were keen to keep in touch to share our experiences and any tips and we will create an informal local NRS email group amongst us. We’d like to thank the Rudry Common Trust for its support and last, but not least, the event raised £50 for the BTO.

An enjoyable day all round and fingers crossed that some, if not all of the participants turn out to be fully fledged nesters in years to come.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones, Asst. BTO Rep, Mid & South Glamorgan

Friday, 13 May 2016

Blue BS

A wonderful piece copied from the Dyfi Osprey project facebook page. This great story deserves wider circulation.

Our friend Mr. Puw the farmer (looks after the buffalo in the winter for us) came to see us a couple of weeks ago - he had found a decomposing Red Kite in one of his fields in Aberhosan. The thing was - this kite had a Darvic leg ring.

After a bit of investigative work, we've found a bit more out. The kite was ringed as a chick on, wait for it, 8th June 1995!!!
There were only 120 pairs of kite in Wales in 1995 - there are over 1,000 now.
And it's our old friend Tony Cross (very young man back then) who ringed him at his nest in Cwmystwyth over two decades ago. Blue BS was just short of his 21st birthday when he was found and only a few weeks short of being the oldest British kite on record.
One of our egg-protection volunteers, Elfyn Pugh, lives close to Blue BS's nest and has seen him raise numerous offspring over the years. Mr Puw has given the Blue BS Darvic ring to Elfyn, who was quite emotional, understandably. "I wouldn't sell this for it's weight in gold" he said this morning.
Thank you to Mr. Puw, Elfyn and of course Tony for all his ringing work. Amazing story, amazing bird.
 Thanks to the Montgomery Wildlife Trust, Dyfi Osprey project for the story, and to second their thanks to Tony for what has been close to a life time of working with Red Kites in Wales

Monday, 9 May 2016

Going home

SCAN ringing group have been colour marking Ringed Plovers at Traeth Lavan  with a view to finding out more how these small plovers use the area as part of their life cycles. 

On the 15th August 2015 a number of non-moulting birds were caught and colour marked near Llanfairfechan. Usually the non-moulting birds are of either Greenland  or Icelandic origin, who stop off in the UK to feed and fatten up before continuing their migration to Southern Europe/west Africa.

At 09:50 on 4th May Jim Dustow saw a colour marked Ringed Plover at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy and identified it as U3. At 11am that same morning the same bird was seen at RSPB Conwy by Steve Culley, feeding on an island in the lagoon. 

This bird is currently crossing North Wales on it’s way north to breed. It would be nice if it were seen again on it’s way north, but my money is on it being back on Traeth Lavan in August on it’s way south again.

SCAN would like to thank both Jim Dustow and Steve Culley for their efforts to read the colour marks and for the prompt reporting, which adds so much to the life story of this exiting migrant.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

What's occurin

A quick update of what’s happening with BTO Cymru over the next few months.

Saturday 2nd April a talk to the Gwent Ornithological Society.  Work of the BTO in Wales, and update on the Cuckoo project. Goytre Village Hall, Penperlleni. Starts at 7:30 and is open to non-members.
Further details’

Sunday 3rd April  Rhosesmor  NE Wales. Come and meet the team.  Keen to get involved in BTO surveys, want to know more about getting involved in BTO survey work,, want to meet other members and volunteers.  1:30pm at Rhosesmor village hall, for refreshments with start at 2pm.  Just off the A55 at CH7 6WF . Open to all, for further details contact your regional reps either Anne Brenchley of Mel ab Owain, or the BTO Cymru office 01248 383285.

Saturday 9th April.  Gilfach Nature reserve, Rhayader.  Joint meeting with the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust at their stunning Gilfach nature reserve.  Come and meet the local BTO Cymru team. want to know more about getting involved in BTO survey work, want to meet other members and volunteers.  8am for a Birdsong identification walk, followed by general meeting at the visitor centre at 10:30. Come for either session or both.  Further details from your regional rep Carlton Parry, the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust , or the BTO Cymru office 01248 383285

Saturday 23rd April. Aber valley Gwynedd.  8am meet at the main car park just off the A55 for a Birdsong identification walk up the beautiful Aber valley as far as the Falls. Prior registration recommended so we can contact you if weather bad. Followed by: 10:30 meet at the Hen Felin cafe upstairs room for a meet the team session, want to know more about getting involved in BTO survey work, want to meet other members and volunteers. Come for either session or both, open to all members, non members and any interested person.  Further details either Geoff Gibbs regional representative 01248 681936 or BTO Cymru office 01248 383285. Note: No parking outside Hen Felin cafe.

It is advisable to book your attendance at which ever event you want to come. This will allow us to make sure we have enough refreshments, and equally if there is inclement weather to be able to advise you before you set out for the birdsong sessions.
For booking, contact  either your regional rep or BTO Cymru at 01248 383285  or

Royal Welsh Spring Show 21 -22 May.  Then team will be in the Floral hall this year. Came and have a chat, we really enjoy meeting members and volunteers and hearing how you have got on with your surveys. Not a member or volunteers but fancy having a go, come and talk to the team.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Where do you come from my lovely

On Saturday 23rd January the Ted Breeze Jones Society were on a field trip to Penmon in SE Anglesey. Keen-eyed observers saw a colour-ringed Curlew in a flock and the bird was duly photographed.  Below is a composite of the same bird but showing the colour rings on both legs, left leg black over yellow and right leg green over white. So began the detective work…

 It would seem that the bird was originally ringed by the SCAN group on Traeth Lavan near Bangor on the 28th February 2009. He was subsequently caught on his breeding grounds near Nordhorn, Germany on the 16th May 2010, where the colour rings were fitted. He has been back breeding in this area in the intervening years.
So where has this bird been wintering between 2010 and now, somewhere on Anglesey or even further afield?
Not quite as high tech as some of the fantastic new technology, but proven and still vital, and relevant, colour ringing which, despite being old fashioned, is still producing quality data. So keep looking at those legs and reporting the colour rings. You never know just what an important part of the jig-saw you might be completing.

Ddydd Sadwrn, Ionawr 23ain yr oedd aelodau Cymdeithas Ted Breeze Jones ar daith yn ardal Penmon, Sir Fôn. Yn un o’r caeau gwlyb, yr oedd nifer o gylfinir ac wrth edrych dros y lluniau a dynnwyd, fe sylwyd bod un ohonynt â modrwyau lliw ar ei goesau. Y mae llun cyfansawdd o’r aderyn er mwyn dangos y lliwiau ar ei ddwy goes -  du uwchben melyn ar y goes chwith a gwyrdd uwchben gwyn ar ei goes dde. Beth oedd ei hanes? Yr oedd angen gwaith ditectif...

Ymddengys i’r aderyn hwn gael ei fodrwyo gyntaf gan grŵp SCAN ar Draeth Lafan, ger Bangor ar 28ain Chwefror 2009. Cafodd ei ddal drachefn yn ei ardal magu ger Nordhorn, Yr Almaen ar 16eg Mai 2010, a’r adeg honno, fe osodwyd y modrwyau lliw ar ei goesau. Bu’n dychwelyd yn rheolaidd i’r ardal magu yn y blynyddoedd ers hynny.
Tybed ble y bu’r aderyn hwn yn gaeafu ers 2010, ar Ynys Môn ynteu yn rhywle arall?

Nid yw’r defnydd o fodrwyau lliw yn rhywbeth newydd nac yn defnyddio technoleg fodern ond mae yn ddibynadwy ac yn parhau i ddarparu data sy’n hynod werthfawr. Felly daliwch ati i syllu ar y coesau a rhowch wybod am unrhyw fodrwyau lliw a welwch. Wyddoch chi ddim, efallai mai dyna fydd yr union ddarn o’r jig-sô sydd ei angen.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

If you go down to the Severn today.....

New project to unravel the movements of individual waterbirds on the Severn Estuary

We’re asking birdwatchers to look out for colour-ringed and dye-marked waders and ducks on and around the Severn Estuary.

The British Trust for Ornithology and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have recently started a project to understand more about the home ranges of three species of waders (Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin) and a range of duck species  on the Severn Estuary between Newport and Cardiff. As part of this work the Redshank and Curlew have been colour ringed and Dunlin and some ducks marked with yellow dye. In addition we have put state-of-the-art tracking devices on some of the Curlew, Redshank and Shelduck, which is giving us fascinating information about how birds use the estuary through the winter during both the day and the night. Work is ongoing, with the aim to mark more birds of these species and additional duck species during January and February.

The work is funded by Tidal Lagoon Power, to provide high quality scientific information for the environmental impact assessment for a proposed tidal power lagoon (Tidal Lagoon Cardiff), and to inform their conservation and biodiversity programme - the Ecosystem Enhancement Programme (EEP).

If you see any colour ringed or dyed birds when you are birdwatching either on the Severn or elsewhere, we would be very grateful for any sightings of these birds.

We are particularly interested in any records of birds with yellow dye. Birds of different age have been marked on different parts of the body so please record the location of the dye and, if possible, the total number of birds in the flock, the date, time and location (ideally including a six-figure grid reference) alongside sightings of colour-marked birds.

Any records of colour ringed birds on the Severn would also be extremely valuable and we will give all observers information on the history of any colour ringed birds.

We are very keen to follow up any records quickly and would be grateful if you could phone the BTO on 01842 750050, or email Emily Scragg ( with any records of colour-marked waders as soon as possible. Please email duck records to Ed Burrell (

Please pass on this information to any of your birdwatching contacts who may be interested in recording these birds.

Further detail of the marking schemes is provided below:

Redshank have yellow over white colour rings  on the left tarsus (below the "knee"), and a colour over a metal ring on the left tibia (above the "knee"), plus two colour rings on the right tibia.

Curlew have orange over white colour rings on the left tarsus, a single colour ring on the left tibia, the metal ring on the right tarsus and two colour rings on the right tibia.

Dunlin adults have yellow dye on the breast, while first-winter Dunlin have yellow dye on the undertail/flanks/rump.

Shelduck have yellow dye on the normally white plumage on the neck/upper breast.