Surveys

During its long history the Club has undertaken many surveys and will continue to do so in order to understand the current status of the birds in our county, particularly those species which are hard to monitor from conventional records. The Herefordshire Bird Atlas 2007 – 2012, (Davies, M., Eldridge, P., Robinson, C., Smith, N. & Wells, G. (eds) (2014). The Birds of Herefordshire 2007 – 2012: An Atlas of their breeding and wintering distributions. Liverpool University Press),  remains our standard reference source,but we are aware that it had limitations and that it will become out of date in time. We therefore strongly encourage on-going participation in our Club and national surveys, as well as individual HOC members gathering records on a regular basis. Studies of specific species or locations are particularly welcome.

Surveys which are currently being undertaken, supported or proposed by the Club are:

Garden Birdwatch
The HOC has devised a very simple Garden Bird Survey based on weekly records. All you have to do is fill in a simple form (either electronic or paper format) - just identify the birds, count the maximum number of each species seen at any one time in the week, and enter the number in the box provided. As well as using the data for a quarterly report we now transfer all garden bird records to our county database so that they can contribute to both county and UK records. For further information please contact Ann Wilkinson at gardenbirdwatch@herefordshirebirds.org.

Herefordshire Site Surveys
The number of site surveys has dwindled but some members still carry out monthly surveys at a range of well-known birding sites within the county. These surveys are particularly useful as they provide an ongoing year-on-year comparison of bird status at key points within the county. For further information please contact Chris Robinson at herefordbtorep@btinternet.com.

Burley Gate Farmland Survey
This project involves resurveying a farmland site at Burley Gate that was surveyed in detail during the 1960’s. During the winter of 2017/18 and summer 2018 the area was resurveyed using the same CBC (Common Bird Census) methods in order to see what changes had taken place. A second winter survey started in October 2018. The work will be continued for at least a further year. For further information please contact Robert Taylor at vicechair@herefordshirebirds.org.

Lowland Breeding Curlew Study
In 2017 work was started on identifying the remaining Curlew breeding sites in Herefordshire with the aim of protecting this rapidly declining species. We are now part of the Lowland Curlew Forum and in 2018 have been working closely with other counties to share experience, knowledge and protection methods. We are now also working closely with the nature agencies and landowners to help protect nest sites and the work will continue in 2019. For further information please contact Chris Robinson at herefordbtorep@btinternet.com.

BTO Surveys
Members of the club also contribute as individuals to surveys coordinated by the BTO, including Wetland Bird Survey (Webs), Heronry Census, Nest Record Scheme, the Ringing Scheme and the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Wetland Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS). Information on all these may be found on the BTO website www.bto.org or contact the Herefordshire BTO Representative at herefordbtorep@btinternet.com. In addition, one-off surveys are commissioned by the BTO from time to time (for example on breeding House Martins and Tawny Owls) and details are circulated to HOC members.

Projects

Nest boxes
The HOC supports installation of nest boxes (a) for species of conservation concern where availability of nest sites may be a factor limiting their abundance; (b) to help develop an interest in birds and their conservation, which is done through the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (HWT).

Currently HWT monitors nest boxes at 11 Herefordshire Wildlife Trust reserves throughout the County and a further 13 non-reserve sites, including Moccas Park. The results of the monitoring (and ringing) activities are published annually in the Birds of Herefordshire Annual Reports.

If you are interested in joining the nest box monitoring scheme please contact Andrew Nixon, HWT Senior Conservation Manager at a.nixon@herefordshirewt.co.uk.

Sand Martins on the River Wye
HOC members Andrew Strong and Dan Webb have been studying a colony of Sand Martins at Sellack on the River Wye for several years. In 2018 a total of 145 nest holes were recorded, but unexpected bad weather prevented the scheduled final phase of ringing activities, although earlier in the summer 88 birds were ringed (with the help of students from Cardiff University Ornithological Society, amongst others), over a quarter of which had been ringed in previous years. The Club has supported this project with a small grant to purchase an endoscope to aid investigation of nest holes.

Andrew and Dan will continue monitoring the colony in 2019, and also intend to establish the number of colonies breeding along the banks of the Wye in Herefordshire. Further updates will appear as this project progresses. For further information please contact either Dan Webb at Daniel.webb444@gmail.com or Andrew Strong at aj.strong@icloud.com.

Bodenham Lake
The Club is supporting a range of activities managed by the Herefordshire Wildlife Reserve at Bodenham Lake as a part of the Lugg Living Landscape initiative, including the building of a new observation hide and an Osprey platform. A major aim of the project is to re-profile the steep banks to enable improved marginal vegetation and more extensive reed beds. HOC members have been involved in a number of volunteering activities at the site during the works that are underway. For further information contact Lugg Living Landscape Project Officer Sophie Cowling at s.cowling@herefordshirewt.co.uk.

Updates are on all these surveys and projects are published in the Club’s Newsletters.