Migratory flyways: The perils facing birds

We are aware that Curlews are as rare as hen’s teeth (if not rarer) in the Cotswolds. For an insight of the multiple threats faced by migratory water birds you might be interested in a BBC World Service/ABC 4 part series on the East Asian Australasian Flyway which covers 22 countries. Although it focuses on an area far to the east of us, the lessons are applicable here – particularly when it comes to development and the argument* that you hear that the birds will move somewhere else if their feeding grounds are ‘developed’. They don’t.

But you can try to mitigate the effects as you will hear in part 1.

I haven’t listened to part 2 yet, but as it features South Korea I think I am going to be even more depressed. It reduced ecologist Richard Fuller to tears as you will hear.

Part 1 is here

Part 2 here

Parts 3 and 4 haven’t been broadcast yet, but the home page where all the episodes will be available is here.

It just underlines the fact that what we think of as ‘our’ birds have lives outside of the UK and there are multiple threats

*advanced, for example when Cardiff Bay was developed and as a defence for the disruption that would be caused by the Severn Barrage

Website up and running

The rest of the NCOS website is running again, including news of forthcoming field meetings. It’s still a bit light on content but we will be working to add things over the coming weeks.

If there is anything you would like to see please contact us via the ‘info’ address (see ‘Contacts’ page).

Website woes and ideas for a refresh

As some of you may have noticed the website has not been updated this month. Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on how you look at it) the software that supports the editing has been upgraded and (you knew this was coming didn’t you?) no longer works with the template used to build the site. The site will therefore  have to be rebuilt.

The good news is that it should work better on mobile devices (iPhones, iPads and the like*) and we know that we do get visitors who use these.

It also gives us the opportunity to redesign the site – so if there are things you would like to see let us know using the ‘info‘ address.

Any thoughts by the end of September please.

*other computer and communications equipment are availble!)

Consultation on Country Parks – yours views wanted by 9 January

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust may shortly be taking over several sites currently owned by the County Council.  Both bodies want people’s views on this by FRIDAY 9th JANUARY (they haven’t had much response yet).

There is a comments form with maps and details here.

Dr Colin Studholme (GWT’s Director of Conservation) describes the project:

Dear All

You may be aware that Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been in discussion with the County Council regarding the possible transfer of the Country Parks – Crickley Hill, Barrow Wake, Cooper’s Hill. Coaley Peak and Kilkenny – to the Trust. This would give the Trust an amazing opportunity to take on 5 sites of high wildlife and archaeological interest, and – just as importantly – sites with a good visitor infrastructure which will allow us to communicate our conservation messages to the Gloucestershire public.

The Council is currently consulting on the proposal but to date have received very few responses. This may be that the proposal has not been very well advertised, or that it is not easy to find on the Council website, or simply that people are not too concerned whether the sites transfer to us or not. Clearly there are many issues for the Trust to consider in the next month, especially how we will fund the current shortfall in the site running costs. But the sites are not seen as core business for the Council and we believe that their sustainable future lies with us and we have exciting plans if they do become ours.

We would like as many people as possible to respond to the Council’s consultation with their views so I would be very grateful if you could spend a few moments to provide some feedback via the Council’s website. Please also forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in commenting. The link can be found here: http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/countryside (but if this is not successful just view the proposal under “consultations” on the Council’s website).

Thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes


How good are your id skills?

With the nights drawing in and if you are fed up with what’s on the telly and trying to find something to fill in the evening, why not try the tests on this Norwegian University site. The tests cover the Western palearctic – you can pick a country or the entire region and try pictures or sounds (or both).

Have fun

Poole Harbour

For info from the RSPB

From: Terry White <terry.eider@yahoo.co.uk>
To: Sent:
Subject: Poole Harbour Birdboats
Please note details of our winter Birdboat trips from November 2014 to February 2015 are now available.
There are two Sunday and two Wednesday trips around Poole Harbour plus two which include landing on Brownsea Island.
Full details can be found on  www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/rspb-bird-boats
Terry White
Poole RSPB Birdboats


The Breeding Bird Survey – guest post from Gordon Kirk, BTO regional representative for Gloucestershire

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), organised by the British Trust for Ornithology, is the most important survey for monitoring the fortunes of our more common breeding birds. All over the country, thousands of volunteers survey “their” 1km square every spring, recording all the birds they encounter. These randomly-selected squares are surveyed every year and this constant effort provides a huge and valuable set of data from which population trends can be calculated, providing important feedback on the state of the environment. Currently, about 70 people survey squares in Gloucestershire.

Why not join this happy band?…..if you enjoy doing a NCOS summer or winter survey, you will love BBS! You need to be reasonably confident that you can recognise common birds by sight, call and song. You survey your square twice – once in April / early May, and again in late May /June. Most observers also visit their square in March to walk the course and record some details about the habitat – is it woodland, farmland, urban etc? Each visit might take about one and a half hours. Almost all observers submit their sightings online, but you can fill in paper forms if you wish.

Currently there are fourteen available, unallocated squares in the NCOS area, listed below. Have a look on a map to locate them, and if you taking on one of them or finding out more, please contact me on Gordonkirk (at) aol.com. It may be necessary to seek permission from landowners in order to survey some squares (those marked with an asterix below are probably in that category, but don’t let this put you off – most landowners are happy to agree to this, and it is always great to survey otherwise inaccessible areas); I may be able to assist, and can certainly provide a BTO letter of introduction. There is a BBS training session on Sunday 6th April (9am -12noon) at Frampton on Severn, designed to introduce new observers to the survey (and each other!) – again, contact me if you would like to attend. It’s free but I need to know numbers.

Available squares:-

SO9026*  NW of Cheltenham
SO9108  N of Bisley
SO9809*  NW of Cirencester, just off the A417
SP0306  Baunton Downs
SP0403*  NE of Cirencester
SP0426*  SE of Winchcombe
SP0637  SE of Aston Somerville
SP0715*  W of Northleach
SP0935  N of Snowshill
SP1009  N of Ablington
SP1203*  NW of Fairford
SP1602  NE of Fairford
SP1736*  NE of Blockley
SP1930*  SW of Moreton-in-Marsh