Wales Chat Survey

Wheatear by Derek Belsey

Wheatear. Photograph by Derek Belsey.

Commonly referred to as chats, Stonechat, Whinchat and Wheatear are small, predominately ground-nesting members of the thrush family typically found in undisturbed open habitats such as uplands and heaths. Together with Scotland and northern England, Wales is a stronghold of the UK populations of Whinchat and Wheatear, and also holds a significant proportion of our Stonechats. Populations of all three species have shown marked changes over the last century.  

For Wales, a special targeted survey was needed to obtain more detailed information on scarcer species such as the chats and to identify the habitat features most important to them. In 2012 and 2013 a survey of Stonechat, Whinchat and Wheatear was conducted across Wales with representative sampling stratified according to six broad land-class categories.  Based on two site visits to allocated 1-km squares, bird registrations and habitat were recorded at two spatial scales a) 1-km and b) within 25m of a bird registration. The standardised and defined survey procedure allowed objective habitat associations to be analysed and population estimates to be calculated, the latter albeit with broad error margins.  

With the survey now over, nearly 300 squares were surveyed by volunteers, and the results have been published. Results.