Wanted: bird-watch­ers

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country - Jack Watkins

THE Bri­tish Trust for Or­nithol­ogy (BTO) is seek­ing vol­un­teers for its an­nual house-martin sur­vey. De­spite build­ing their nests close to hu­mans, much of the be­hav­iour of these sum­mer vis­i­tors from Africa— which the Rev Gil­bert White once be­lieved hi­ber­nated in the UK over win­ter, un­der rocks—re­mains a mys­tery. So do the rea­sons for a longterm 69% pop­u­la­tion de­cline, lead­ing to the house martin’s am­ber list­ing on the UK list for Birds of Con­ser­va­tion Con­cern. The BTO hopes its sur­vey of nests will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on breed­ing and habi­tat pref­er­ences, and more ac­cu­rate pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mates (www.bto.org/house­martins).

New vol­un­teers are also sought for the an­nual Breed­ing Bird Sur­vey (BBS) (www.bto.org/bbs), the find­ings of which make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to mon­i­tor­ing species pop­u­la­tion trends. For ex­am­ple, it’s the BBS that has shown that, although tree spar­rows, whose num­bers plunged in the im­me­di­ate post Sec­ond World War decades, have in­creased by 12% in re­cent years, the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion re­mains at about one for ev­ery 30 found in the 1970s.

Par­tic­i­pants are be­ing asked to carry out first nest sur­veys from early April to mid May, with a sec­ond sur­vey from mid May to the end of June.

The BTO is hop­ing that data from vol­un­teers can help ex­plain the rea­sons be­hind the 69% de­cline in the house­martin pop­u­la­tion

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