BirdTrack is a free and flexible way of storing your bird records online. Whether you are a casual birdwatcher or a serious lister, BirdTrack is a great system and an excellent tool for keeping an eye on what others have been seeing around the country.

Stake your claim to your BirdTrack patch and see how your records develop over months and years - and how your rank against others improves. Seen an interesting species whilst on the move? BirdTrack is great for casual records as well.

Visit the dynamic BirdTrack homepage to learn more.

Mass raptor poisoning

2 Oct 2014
BirdTrack Buzzard counts in north Norfolk, March–April 2005–2014

Allen Lambert worked as a gamekeeper on the Stody estate in north Norfolk. On 1 October 2014, he appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court and was found guilty of two charges relating to the killing of 10 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk on the estate, and possession of pesticides and other items capable of being used to prepare poison baits.

A key part of the case for the defence was the idea that the number of dead Buzzards found was too high to have been achieved through illegal poisoning in one area and that the carcasses must therefore have been ‘planted’ on Mr Lambert. When the experts were consulted, however, BTO quickly provided the robust evidence that refutes this claim.

Counts of Buzzards in north Norfolk from the same time period as the crimes took place (March–April) were extracted from BirdTrack and mapped (see right; orange dots represent counts of 10–14, red dots 15–20). These counts were logged by birdwatchers like you and me, during their day-to-day birding. Who could have foreseen that the simple action of recording sightings in BirdTrack would realise the immense value of such ‘normal’ observations in this way?

As well as proving beyond doubt that double-figure counts of Buzzards are a regular occurrence in Norfolk these days, data collected by BTO volunteers was used in court to highlight the recent population increase and range expansion of Buzzard. Data from Bird Atlas 2007–11 and the Norfolk Bird Atlas were used to show the eastward spread and increasing population density since the previous breeding atlas in 1988–91, while CBC/BBS data spanning 5 decades helped emphasise the recent, dramatic population increase.

It's not unusual for birdwatchers' records, provided impartially, to find valuable applications like this, though it's the first time that BirdTrack data have been utilised in such a case. Power to you!

International Golden Plover survey

11 Sep 2014
Golden Plovers by Ronald Surgenor
On 11–12 October 2014 there will be a coordinated census of Eurasian Golden Plovers across Europe, repeating comparable surveys carried out in 2008 and 2003. The majority of Golden Plovers are concentrated in northwest Europe in October, making it the best time to assess the status of the population. In Britain and Ireland, counts of Golden Plover (and Lapwing) will be collated by BTO and BirdWatch Ireland, within the framework of an International Wader Study Group project.
Golden Plover numbers provided through Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS, UK) and Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS, Ireland) Core Counts will be the key sources of data, in combination with records provided through BirdTrack.
So if you are not a WeBS/I-WeBS counter – or are and find Golden Plovers away from your Core Count site(s) – please use BirdTrack to log your counts of Golden Plover on 11–12 October.
Please try to be as accurate as possible with your counts, ideally to within the nearest 5 for flocks of up to 100, the nearest 20 for flocks up 500 and the nearest 50 for flocks of up to 1,000.
To add even more value to your counts, please use the 'Pinpoint' feature (accessed via the '+' button when adding casual records or species lists online) to give a 6-digit grid reference for each flock.
It will also be useful if you can describe the habitat the flock was using, via the 'Habitat' option, using one of the following 6 terms:

Freshwater marsh