A creative collaboration, bringing together two of Britain’s wild bird charities and leading writers and artists, was launched on 16 January 2020. Titled ‘Red Sixty Seven’, the project seeks to raise awareness of our most at-risk birds and secure additional funds for British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB scientists to carry out important research, work that should help to secure a future for these species.
The project takes its name from the UK Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, which currently contains 67 species. An artwork has been produced for each species, together with a piece by some of the UK’s leading writers, including Ann Cleeves, Patrick Barkham, Mark Cocker and Adam Nicolson. The artworks, which include pieces by Chris Packham, Daily Mail political cartoonist Paul Thomas, Carry Akroyd and a host of other renowned wildlife artists, are being sold to raise funds. A book combing the artwork and texts will be published by BTO on 14 February 2020.
The project was the brainchild of Kit Jewitt, a birder and part-time conservationist from Northumberland who has made something of a name delivering engaging fundraising projects to support conservation work on birds, both as an individual and through the Probable Bird Society.
The idea was simple; a book featuring the 67 Red-listed birds, each illustrated by a different artist with a personal story from a diverse collection of writers. And every penny from sales donated directly to Red-listed species conservation projects run by BTO and RSPB. All that remained was the small task of persuading 134 people to contribute, and to give their work for free. Red Sixty Seven is the result; 67 love letters to our most vulnerable species, each beautifully illustrated by some of the best wildlife artists around, showcasing a range of styles as varied as the birds in these pages. Our hope is that the book will bring the Red List to a wider audience whilst raising funds for the charities working to help the birds most at need.
The 67 artworks are being sold as part of the project through 67 ‘lucky dip’ tickets. By purchasing one of the 67 tickets you are guaranteed to receive one of the original artworks and limited edition prints, but you will not know which one until the tickets and artworks are drawn from a hat on Friday 14th February 2020.
A book of all the artwork and accompanying texts is also available, along with T-shirts and badges.More Details
2019 has flown by and you have been able to follow our work on our website and social media, as well as through BTO News and other publications. There are too many stories to be told, but we have collected some of our proudest achievements here and in the video at the bottom of this page to highlight the incredible work of BTO volunteers and staff. From tracking Cuckoos to engaging with young people, from learning about garden birds to announcing our new President - we hope you enjoy the video and do keep following us to see what 2020 will bring.
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A Short-eared Owl, fitted with a satellite tag whilst breeding in Scotland, has been tracked to Morocco. Researchers from BTO Scotland have been developing methods for surveying Short-eared Owls in their breeding haunts and tracking the movements of individuals across the year. Even though only a handful of birds have been fitted with tracking devices so far we have already seen some amazing movements, the most exciting of which has just been revealed.
A breeding female, tagged at her nest site on Arran on 11 June this year, is currently wintering near Oualidia in Morocco. The bird left Arran to visit Bute and Kintyre from 15 – 17 July, returning to Arran for 10 days and then moving to mainland Ayrshire on 27 July. She remained here (near Dalmellington) until the end of October... read more
The latest update of the Indicator for Terrestrial Breeding Birds in Scotland has just been released. These official statistics, published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), track the abundance of Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds using results from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey and other sources. The latest figures show a positive long-term trend for the woodland bird indicator in Scotland, with this group increasing by 58% between 1994 and 2018. The long-term trend for the farmland bird indicator is also positive, with Goldfinch, Whitethroat and Reed Bunting among the species contributing to a 12% increase. The upland bird indicator declined by 15% during this period. Short-term changes suggest... read more
By 2020, the BTO will be in its second year of an exciting 5-year landscape restoration program in Belarus and Ukraine – ‘Wilderness without borders: creating one of the largest natural landscapes in Europe’. The project aims to designate new, and upgrade existing conservation areas, to create a transboundary protected and interconnected core area of 1.2 million ha., within the wider Prypiat / Polesia area covering approximately 5.8 million ha.
This project will examine the potential of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) as a tool for providing large-scale baseline data for nocturnal wildlife. Specifically, the student will combine the deployment of acoustic recorders in the Prypiat and Polesia wilderness area with analysis of acoustic data.
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Thanks to the BTO's Cuckoo Tracking Project we are learning more about Cuckoo migration. There are still important questions to answer, so we have fitted four more Cuckoos with satellite tags this spring. Senan, Valentine, Tennyson and Nussey join eight existing birds, all of which should make their way south during the next few weeks. Follow their exciting journeys.
Together, the UK’s gardens cover a larger area than all National Nature Reserves combined and arguably form our most important nature reserve. As towns and city become more densely populated and expand into the wider countryside, gardens are becoming an increasingly vital refuge for wildlife. But which birds, mammals, minibeasts and other wildlife do we share our gardens with, and why? And more importantly, what can we do to help support them? We want to carry out the UK’s biggest ever garden audit, building a picture of the resources available for wildlife in gardens up and down the country, and surveying some of the wild visitors they attract.
The latest BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey report has been published, covering the period July 2017 to June 2018. Explore all the data and trends, including waterbird totals for all WeBS sites – from 382,523 on The Wash to just 18 on Welton village pond – on the WeBS Report Online, where you can also map the latest Low Tide Counts survey results.
The latest report includes articles focusing on Curlew, Barnacle Goose, Redshank, Shelduck, and the waterbirds of rivers. The latest wintering waterbird population estimates are also included, revealing which species are the most abundant of the 13 million waterbirds that winter in the UK.
With data available... read more
The new BBS report shows the impact that severe 2018 weather may have had on some of our birds. The Beast from the East hit some of our smaller resident birds whilst strong desert winds hampered spring migration for some of our summer migrants.
WeBS has today launched a new feature in WeBS Online data entry to allow Counters to optionally record the number of birds of different ages and sexes for certain wildfowl and wader species. This might be all the birds of a particular species present, or a sample of a larger flock. Background information and how to take part is given in the Guidance document.
The very first National Wildfowl Counts forms from the 1940s used to have space to record this information, so this is a return of data collection after a very long hiatus! The data gathered will be invaluable for future analyses of breeding success by looking at age composition across years, and... read more
The BTO BirdTrends 2019 report is a one-stop shop for information about the population status for over 100 common breeding birds of the wider UK countryside. The longest-term information shows that 31 species have declined significantly by more than 50% over the past 20-50 years, with at least half of these being seen in farmland birds. Two species, Turtle Dove and Grey Partridge are amongst those showing the greatest decline, by 98% and 92% respectively over the 50 years period to 2017.
It is not all gloom and doom - some birds are doing very well. The Nuthatch has seen its population boom, up by 268% during the same period. It is also enjoying a northward range expansion and is now a fairly common sight in parts of... read more
Gardenwatch was launched on BBC Springwatch in May 2019, and asked people for information on garden features and wildlife across the country. The responses have given us fascinating new information on how people help wildlife in their gardens, and where there is still more that can be done.
The report covers 31 different wildlife-friendly garden features and practices, from feeding Badgers to leaving long grass to grow. A number of recommended practices are not as widespread as they could be, and some of these are things that people can start doing right away.
It has been six years since the last UK wetlands health check when just a third of the featured waterbirds were flagged with long-term alerts, highlighting issues that were in need of investigation. Fast-forward six years and almost half of featured waterbirds have been flagged with long-term alerts. Birds such as Scaup, Goldeneye and Purple Sandpiper have all seen population declines and are becoming increasingly reliant on the Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) that are designed to protect them. The Wetland Bird Survey Alerts, published today, assesses change for 471 site-species populations on 82 SPA’s, and for the first time a further 1,266 assessments were carried out for 220 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Special Scientific Interest. Whilst overall winter numbers... read more
More species have decreased in abundance than have increased since 1970 and species distribution has fallen by 5%. Thanks to the dedication of thousands of volunteers who go out throughout the year and across years collecting information and submitting data, reports such as this are possible, without them the information available would be much poorer. As a result 8,431 terrestrial and freshwater species have been assessed. Read the full report now.
The updated set of 24 Government Biodiversity Indicators for 2019 were published on 5 September. This document includes 'C5 Birds of the Wider Countryside and At Sea', which shows the changing fortunes of farmland, woodland, breeding and wintering waterbirds and seabirds from 1970 to 2017. BTO monitoring data also contribute to 'C4 Status of UK Priority Species,' with 104 bird species trends used in the measure of changes in abundance, as well as to 'A2 Taking Action for Nature: Time Spent Volunteering', 'B6 Pressure from Invasive Species', and to the new provisional 'Functional Connectivity indicator (C2)'. The 60-page downloadable report also shows progress in mainstreaming biodiversity, the... read more
The data entry system for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), WeBS Online, has been updated. The functionalities remain largely the same, with some improvements of course! Guidance is available on the WeBS Counter Resources page and video tutorials on the new look system will follow shortly.
Join one of BTO's bird experts at Birdfair 2019 on a free guided walk around Rutland Water Nature Reserve. There are four walks a day at 9.45am, 11.15am, 1.45pm and 3.15pm. Each walk last around 90 minutes, usually stopping off at least one hide. Sunday morning's first walk of the day is slightly different. Deb Lee, Head of Engagement, will lead a Mindful Birdwatching walk, where no binoculars will be needed!
Guided walks are free but please book in advance to guarantee your choice, as places are limited. Some places may be available on the day, check at the BTO Main Stand (Marquee 3).
Tickets are now on sale for Spurn Migration Festival 2019. The festival runs from 6-8 September and will celebrate the autumn migration of birds. The keynote talk is by Professor of Ornithology, Per Alstrom, and will be followed during the weekend by many others exploring the spectacle of migration, and of course there will be birds. Don't miss out, get your tickets now.
As part of our quest to improve our understanding of bird migration we have been satellite-tracking Cuckoos that breed here in the UK. This work has revealed the wintering grounds of UK Cuckoos in Africa and the routes they take to get there and back. We've been tracking twelve Cuckoos since last summer and now the first birds have made it back the the UK. Find out which Cuckoos are the first to arrive back in the UK.
Widely recognised for his work on the study and conservation of owls and raptors, biologist and professional ecologist Colin Shawyer has collaborated with the BTO on projects such as Project Barn Owl (1995-1997) and the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (2000-2009). As founder and co-ordinator of the Barn Owl Conservation Network (BOCN), Colin is in contact with Barn Owl ringers and nest recorders across the country and oversees the annual monitoring of over 3,000 nest boxes.
The Barn Owl breeding season was poor throughout much of Great Britain in 2018, characterised by nests failing with eggs and small chicks—especially so for pairs that laid in early-to-mid April—and successful nests averaging broods of only 1.5–1... read more
Widening BTO's appeal
Andy Clements, BTO's Chief Executive, looks at how BTO can engage new audiences.
Scottish Birdwatchers' Conference
Every year the Scottish Ornithologist's Club arrange a one-day Scottish Birdwatchers’ Conference, organised by a local branch of the SOC, in conjunction with BTO Scotland.