Time-limited notices (e.g. work party and fieldtrip announcements) will be removed from this page after the date of the event. Items of more general interest (e.g. ringing recoveries) will be retained for a longer period of time. If you have a news snippet item, please send an email to the web manager.
Obituary – Frank Gribble
To read an obituary for our late President, Frank Gribble, please select this link.
Making the most of BirdTrack, and Your Records
BirdTrack is an online bird records database, delivered through a partnership between the BTO, the RSPB, Birdwatch Ireland, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and the Welsh Ornithological Society, that looks at migration movements and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland. This database provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own personal records as well as using these records to support species conservation at local, regional, national and international scales.
The Shropshire Ornithological Society maintains its own electronic database of records (using ‘Recorder 6’). It is down to the County Bird Recorder to ensure that this includes as many validated records from within Shropshire as possible. This database is the only official record of the birds observed within the County.
The SOS promotes the use of BirdTrack for the submission of records. It is a powerful and simple to use an online system or ‘phone application (‘app’) that allows users to upload partial or complete lists for the sites they visit. The County Recorder has access to these records, and will download all records uploaded to BirdTrack on at least a quarterly basis, with all BirdTrack records used in the summary of observations within The Buzzard, and in the Annual Report.
But, to make the most of your records, there are a few things to bear in mind…
Allow access: When setting up you user account, it is imperative that you tick the box to ‘allow recorders to access your records’. If you have set up an account and are not sure if you ticked this box, log in to your account and click ‘my details & settings’, at the bottom of this section. It hopefully states that ‘you have asked us to forward records to local recorders’. If not, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your user_id and a request to change this setting.
Create lists for specific sites: If you are recording the species you see during a walk, rather than create a single list for the length of your walk, create smaller lists for the areas visited (and name them appropriately with the correct Grid Reference). For example, if you were to walk along the River Severn from Bridgnorth to Highley, create a number of lists along the way e.g. ‘River Severn, Bridgnorth’, ‘River Severn, Quatford’, ‘River Severn, Hampton Loade’, ‘River Severn, Highley’ etc. This ensures that the records are entered at the correct location (albeit an approximate location); a list of species from a ten-mile walk is of much less use.
Name sites correctly: Name the sites you visit based on the names on the OS maps so far as possible. Avoid the use terms such as Garden List, Work List etc.
Ensure the site Grid Reference is correct: When creating a list for a site for the first time, make sure the grid reference is correct. This is particularly relevant when using the BirdTrack app as it is possible to create a new site, which if you are not at that site, will use your current Grid Reference.
Sites near the County Boundary: If you are visiting sites around the County boundary, you will need to keep separate lists for the site either side of the divide. This is most relevant in Shropshire in reference to records logged at Whixall Moss and within the Wyre Forrest; when visiting these sites please include the County in your list name (e.g. ‘Wyre Forrest (Shropshire)’)
Do not duplicate records: If you submit your records through BirdTrack, there is no need to send them to the County Recorder by any other means.
Include comments: The number of records submitted to BirdTrack within Shropshire increases each quarter. There is the temptation to create lists of species and numbers with little additional information, as these lists are often generated on ‘phones in the field. But, the Annual Reports will become very boring if they become simply a list of species and numbers by site. Include relevant comments on noteworthy behaviours, breeding activity, habitat preference etc. when possible.
Reward for Information on Peregrine Poisonings
In Nov 2015 it was confirmed that a Peregrine found dead at a quarry in Clee Hill had been poisoned.
The reward has now been doubled to £2000 for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
A Lapwing photographed at Venus Pool on 30 August 2015 had been ringed at Sealand Manor, Flintshire on 1 May 2003.
Red Kites 2015
The 2015 Shropshire Red Kite report is now available and can be found in full here
Wetland Bird Survey: Volunteer Counters Requested
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is administered by the BTO in partnership with the WWT-RSPB and the JNCC. WeBS commenced in 1947 at the instigation of Sir Peter Scott to monitor all non-breeding waterbirds in the UK to provide data on which conservation of their populations is based. The objectives are to:
- assess the size of the non-breeding waterbird populations in the UK;
- assess the long-term population trends in numbers and distribution;
- assess the importance of individual sites for waterbirds;
- identify sites of conservation importance for particular species;
- detect changes in locations of populations;
- identify the reasons for population changes at site, regional and national levels, and
- reveal site thresholds for UK national and international importance.
The results form the basis of decisions for the management of wetlands by conservation organisations. The data and WeBS reports fulfil some of the objectives of Conventions and Directives. WeBS supplies UK data to Wetlands International to assist co-ordination and reporting on wetland status at an international flyway scale.
Survey methodology is simply “look-see” within site boundaries. To minimise statistical bias by double counting, surveys are undertaken on synchronised monthly core count priority dates, Sundays, which if inconvenient may be carried out on the preceding Friday or Saturday or the following Monday.
The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) recognises WeBS as an example of good practice due to fulfillment of statutory national and international obligations and directives. The WeBS series of counts has become one of the longest-term and largest-scale biological datasets in the world. From inception volunteer surveyors have been pivotal to success.
There are 82 sites on the Shropshire WeBS list and 59 are surveyed. Some sites are large, others re interesting small meres and pools. Many additional wetlands merit surveying and are not included on the county schedule, for example the River Severn, River Perry and other flood plains. Sites not presently survey include Bomere, Shomere and Bitham Pools, Condover (SJ4980880), Acton Burnell Pool (SJ540019), Adderley Park Lake (SJ654397), Aldenham Park Pool (SO665951), Enville Hall Pool (SO825855), Oakley park Pool (SJ701371), Norton in Hayes(SJ701371), River Severn at Apley Park, south end(SO724956), Steadvallets Pools, near Ludlow (SO455765), River Teme, Ludow towards Knighton (SO405735), Sundorne Pool, Shrewsbury (SJ525146), Sunderton Pool, Shrewsbury (SJ526163), Willey Estate Pools at Much Wenlock (SO667988), Hardwick Pool (SO367906), Ossmere at Whitchurch (SJ566438) and Blakemere at Whitchurch (SJ558425).
Additional counters are required to undertake WeBS counts on these and other wetland sites to improve the precision of wintering waterbird populations in Shropshire.
Surveyors are urgently required at Telford for Middle Pool (SJ688118) and Trench Pool (SJ686124) and one person to join a team for the Severn-Vyrnwy Confluence near Melverley to provide a continuum of data for each of these sites.
Interested persons please contact Michael Wallace, 75 Larkhill Road, Kingswood, Shrewsbury SY3 8XJ.
Tel: 01743 369035 Email: email@example.com
Michael F Wallace
BTO WeBS Shropshire Local Organiser
Surveying Churches and Chapels for Swifts by Peta Sams. Please see here.
Ringed Canada Goose
Canada Goose “red AAJL” was ringed at Bowness on Windermere on 2/7/13, then seen at Polemere on 22/9/13, now nesting on Long Mynd.
Caring for God’s Acre Needs YOU to Find Swifts in Churches!
Caring for God’s Acre is a conservation charity dedicated to wildlife and conservation within burial grounds of all faiths, denominations or non-faith sites. We seek to encourage people to manage these fantastic places with nature in mind as well as learning about them and enjoying the tranquillity, wildlife and history that pervades most burial sites.
We aim to encourage, support and influence, working closely with site managers, diocese staff, council staff who manage cemeteries and also conservation charities such as Swift Conservation. We run conferences, workshops and skills training for burial ground managers (usually churchyard volunteers) and have considerable resources on our website (www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk). This includes Case Studies, an Education Pack aimed at children up to about 11 years old, an Action Pack, a Botanical Companion and will include a Field Studies Council fold-out chart (currently in preparation).
We have 6 flagship species or groups which have been chosen to highlight particular aspects of burial grounds and issues to consider: Yew tree, Swift, Bumblebee, Slow worm, Waxcap fungi, Hedgehog
We have been working with Peta Sams of the Shropshire Swift Group and through this have become aware how difficult it can be to identify and protect Swift nest sites when the birds are not present. To help protect these sites we are planning a survey of Shropshire churches and chapels and are asking SOS members to help. This survey will involve observations in the evening when Swifts are likely to be returning to nests in the months of May, June and July. Caring for God’s Acre will hold this information in a database and will use it to inform diocese staff and also local vicars, churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils that they have Swifts. This database will be invaluable to diocese staff when building work is needed and Swift Conservation can then advise on how best to protect both nests and birds. We hope this will be a pilot which, in time, could be followed in other dioceses.
Churchyards and cemeteries are also known for providing good habitat for Spotted Flycatcher and we would like to hear about of any records specific to burial grounds. Presence would be useful and breeding records great. We would be collating this for awareness raising and possible interpretation.
If you are interested in contributing to this survey then please let me know. It has been approved by the SOS sub-committee and I will set out a more detailed system for recording in the spring.
Turtle Dove – Recovery of Ringed Bird
Sad news from the BTO, an adult male Turtle Dove ringed near Shrewsbury 21 May 2008, has been found shot dead in Spain on 19 Sep 2014, 1500km due south.
The colour-ringed Little Egret that has been at Venus Pool this autumn was rung as a nestling on 10 June 2013 at North Cotes, Lincolnshire. Venus Pool is a distance of 203km from the ringing site.
Med Gulls Breed in Shropshire
Mediterranean Gulls have bred at Wood Lane NR, successfully raising three young. This is the first known breeding of this species in Shropshire. The chicks hatched at the end of May and have recently fledged.
A Honey Buzzard found dead on Par Beach, Cornwall on 14 June 2013, had been ringed and colour ringed as a chick in Shropshire in July 2000. It was recorded as a breeding bird in South Wales in July 2006 and August 2011 (per M Grantham)
Shropshire Ornithological Society’s View on Red Kite Feeding Station at Craven Arms Discovery Centre
The Society neither supports nor opposes the proposal to establish a red kite feeding station at the Discovery Centre in Craven Arms. We do not believe that there is a conservation case for providing red kites with supplementary food; the Shropshire red kite population is expanding naturally and breeding numbers have been increasing for several years. Having said this, we do not believe that it would have a detrimental effect on the local kite population and acknowledge that the project may bring a range of educational and economic benefits to the area, particularly through the opportunity to view exciting wildlife at close range.
We believe that established good practice relating to kite feeding stations should be strictly adhered to, both during the trial, and subsequently, should feeding be undertaken on a long-term basis. In addition, careful monitoring of all aspects of the project should be undertaken, including negative aspects such as the recording of any casualties caused by traffic on the A49.
SOS Management Committee
More than 30 Coot have been colour-ringed on the Mere at Ellesmere in the last three years, along with several hundred more in Lancashire and further afield. The main colour ringing scheme uses a white colour ring with three letters in black on the left leg, as shown in the images here. Other Coot ringing projects exist so it’s possible that you may see a bird wearing two or more colour rings, with or without lettering.
So far the only reported movement is a bird seen on the Mere that was originally ringed in east Cheshire, but Lancashire’s experience suggests that Coot move around the country far more readily than might be expected.
If you happen to see a colour-ringed Coot on the Mere or anywhere else it would be greatly appreciated if you could make a note or take a picture of the ring colour and letters (or the combination of colour rings on each leg if appropriate) and report it using the website www.ring.ac All reports will be acknowledged and the original date and place of ringing advised whenever possible.
We hope to colour ring more Coot on the Mere over the next few months and, if spring ever breaks, at least some of them may disperse within the county or further afield, so it will be interesting to see where they turn up. The sensible ones have probably flown south for a few weeks!
As a slightly more glamorous example of the sort of discovery that can be made by reporting colour rings, one of the Waxwings that were colour-ringed in Newtown before Christmas has been reported in Lewes (Sussex) and more recently near Geneva, the first ever UK ringed Waxwing to be reported from Switzerland! More info here.
Caspian Gull Ringing Records
On 1st February 2013 there were three Caspian Gulls present at Candles Landfill in Telford: an adult that has been present on and off since 30th November, a 1st-winter that was first seen on 27th December, and a new adult. The latter was seen to possess a yellow ring, and a review of a still image from video footage taken at the time enabled the letters “PADZ” to be read.
A prompt response from Poland revealed that it had been ringed as a pullus in a cachinnans colony to the west of Krakow in the south of the country in May 2009. This colony falls outside the proposed “hybrid zone” where Caspian and Herring Gulls interbreed as indicated in the ground-breaking British Birds article in December 2011. (See a map of this bird’s movements.)
This new adult brings the total number of Caspian Gulls recorded at Candles this winter to an impressive 10, and is thought to be the first ringed individual recorded in the county.
Shropshire’s Community Wildlife Groups
There are eight Community Wildlife Groups, which between them cover most of the Shropshire Hills. All are doing bird surveys, and would welcome the involvement of other birdwatchers.
Community Wildlife Groups:-
• Bring together people interested in wildlife
• Encourage and enhance local interest
• Do surveys to establish the status of key birds and other animals, plants and habitats
• Actively promote conservation.
If you would like to help find and record wildlife sightings in your area, visit the Shropshire’s Community Wildlife Groups website at www.ShropsCWGs.org.uk
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Ringing Records
Population decline, its small size and habit of spending much of its time high in tree tops, means the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is rarely recorded in Shropshire. Only a handful are actually caught and ringed in the UK each year.
Pete Deans first caught a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in his Shropshire garden on the 12/10/2010 as a first year female.
It was caught for a second time on the 15/08/2012.
Then caught again on 15/01/2013.
Why ‘No Dogs’ at Venus Pool?
We are occasionally asked why we do not allow dogs at Venus Pool – evidence is now available that shows that the presence of dogs can reduce the number of birds present by 41% compared to the effect of walkers which reduced numbers by less than 20% (that is without the use of hides). Birds see dogs as potential predators and leave the area – not a habit we want to encourage at Venus Pool. The news item can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6978272.stm