Weather Vane


Lapwing weather vane

Where is this?

What an excellent weather vane! And it’s in our area –  a bottle of wine if you turn up to the AGM and tell me where it is.

Update:   it’s on a house on the east side of the Waterloo car park, Cirencester.  No-one got this, so I get to drink the wine.




Surveys & Woodcocks: Welcome to Gordon Kirk, BTO Gloucester rep

Most of you will know that the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the leading bird research organisation in the UK, combining the scientific expertise of a small group of professional staff with the enthusiasm of a large team of volunteer birders across the country – one of the best examples of ‘citizen science’ that you will find.  Gordon Kirk – one such volunteer birder and also an NCOS member – is the BTO’s new regional representative for Gloucestershire and is now the first point of contact for all BTO matters in the county.  As many NCOS members participate in BTO surveys and take an interest in the wider work of the BTO, Gordon will be contributing occasional posts to this blog.  He says that some will be blatant attempts to get people out in the field to look out for birds, while others will be less demanding.  As we are approaching the key spring/summer surveying period, his first post falls into the first category dealing with the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) ( and details of training on 14 April) and this year’s survey of breeding Woodcock which gets underway next month.

For more information about getting involved with these surveys – or any other BTO matters – contact Gordon Kirk, the BTO’s Regional Representative for Gloucestershire via the contact us page on the website.

Over to Gordon …………………


BTO Surveys for the 2013 breeding season

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

The BBS is the cornerstone of the BTO’s long-standing work to monitor bird populations, and involves visiting a 1km square two or three times during the breeding season to record birds; you need to be reasonably confident that you can identify common birds by song as well as by sight. Several new volunteers have signed up for BBS this spring, so we have a record number of 1km squares allocated in the county. Therefore BTO will soon be releasing some more randomly-chosen squares, which will be available for surveying this spring and summer. So why not join the increasing band of BBS volunteers? Details of what is involved can be found on the BTO site.

A free BBS training event is being held from 9am – 12 noon on Sunday 14th April, at Frampton on Severn Village Hall, where there will be a walk to do a ‘dummy’ survey as well as further information and the opportunity to ask questions and meet fellow observers.

Breeding Woodcock survey

The recent atlas surveys raised concern about Britain’s breeding Woodcock population, suggesting that the range may have contracted – which if true will almost certainly also mean that numbers in the core areas have decreased. However, the methodology for the atlas fieldwork was not well suited for monitoring Woodcock, which is of course a crepuscular and nocturnal species. So a new national survey is taking place this year to monitor numbers and compare them with those found in the last survey in 2003. Nineteen squares in Gloucestershire have been identified by BTO for surveying, and most of these have already been allocated, in many cases to the same observers who surveyed them in 2003. But there are a few left, and also anyone can nominate an additional 1km square for surveying, so why not see if a woodland near you holds any ‘roding’ Woodcock? The survey involves three visits around dusk, and rather than walking around you simply choose a fixed point with good visibility and record any Woodcock activity, as well as making a note about the habitat and any deer activity that you see. Details on the BTO site




Agri-environment update

I hope some of you signed the petition last month to put pressure on the EU to do something sensible with its agricultural policy. For over 50 years, harmful farming practices  have been subsidised and incentivised by the EU.

The losses to our countryside and farming are clear: 92% of Europe’s rivers and lakes are affected by pollution and water overuse due to agriculture, 300 million farmland birds have been lost since 1980 and 3.7 million farming jobs were lost over the last decade. At the same time, many wildlife-friendly farmers have struggled to remain in business.

For the first time ever, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have the power to vote on agricultural policy.  They could be the ones to finally shape a policy that delivers value for our money.

You can send a note to your MEP here.