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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Survey Opportunities

Cumbria Willow Tit survey 2016

From 2010 the Willow Tit has been monitored by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP), however there are very few Cumbria records submitted, to pass on to the panel. The low number of records does not portray an accurate picture of the species in the county, hence the need for a more comprehensive survey for Willow Tits in the county.

If you are interested in taking part in this survey, please get in touch - tel.07818 806991 or email to receive the full survey methodology. Anyone taking part will need some form of sound playback equipment (smart phones seem to work). As it is important to use the same sound file as there can be variability in response to different calls, the sound file will be supplied to those wishing to take part.

Sight records: For this species, it would be very useful if all records can be submitted to the regional bird recorders in the usual way. See

Cumbria Wood Warbler survey

At a recent CBC council meeting a proposal to undertake a county-wide Wood Warbler survey was considered.  The greater proportion of British birds is found in Wales and Scotland but Cumbria remains one of the most important strongholds of Wood Warblers in England.

A Cumbria Wood Warbler survey would have four principal objectives.

  1. To update the current distribution of Wood Warblers.
  2. To establish a population estimate for the county.
  3. To record the breeding status of birds holding territory.
  4. To investigate environmental factors which may be affecting Wood Warbler populations.

It is proposed to conduct a pilot survey in May/June 2016 to test and refine fieldwork methodology and to offer opportunities for anyone interested in becoming more familiar with Wood Warblers and their habitats. A full survey would be undertaken in 2017 aiming to maximise visits to recently occupied and historical sites throughout the county.
Further details will be included in the spring newsletter.

Colour-marking scheme - Goldfinch

From an estimated population of just three pairs in 1990 there are currently around 35-40 pairs of Goldfinches breeding in private gardens amongst the urban area on the centre of the Walney Island. However, this does not appear to reflect the increasing number of birds that are recorded or trapped annually by the observatory, particularly during passage periods.

Between 2012 and 2015, Walney Bird Observatory has individually marked 1000 birds using the following ring sequence on the tarsus of the birds:-

  • Left leg - a BTO metal ring above a colour ring
  • Right leg- two colour rings

Colours used in the individual combinations are Red, Dark Blue, Yellow, Dark Green, Orange, Pale Blue, Black, White, Carmine and Violet.

Goldfinches are regular and increasing visitors to garden feeding stations throughout Britain making the likelihood of re-sightings greater. This is likely to include Cumbrian gardens therefore we would be grateful for notification, giving the full details of colour ring sequences, of any sightings to: -

Wetland Bird Survey

The Wetland Bird Survey monitors the status of waterbirds in the UK. It is run by the BTO, RSPB, JNCC and WWT and is administered by the BTO. Waterbodies are counted once monthly on or near an appointed date. In Cumbria we have good coverage of sites with most coastal sections and major inland waters counted. However there are vacancies some of which are of higher priority than others. These are listed in the links below.

The ability to identify waterfowl and a telescope are all that is needed for the survey. Counting on the coast requires more experience as larger numbers of species, more birds and observations at greater distances are involved.

If you think you can help contact Dave Shackleton on 01931 713693.  He will put you in touch with the appropriate local organiser.

WeBS counter needed for the Inner Solway

There is a vacancy for a keen person to cover the area from Glasson Point to Dykesfield (basically Burgh Marsh).

One count per month on a Sunday – takes approx 2 hours over the high tide period.

Telescope and ability to identify and count large numbers of waders and wildfowl essential.

Please contact Norman Holton on 016973 51330 (work hours) or e-mail

WeBS counter needed for Ormsgill Reservoir at Barrow

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Dave Shackleton on 01931 713693.

Colour ringed Greylag and Canada geese sightings

As part of a long-term study to monitor feral geese, several hundred Canada and a smaller number of Greylag geese have been colour-ringed around Windermere. If anyone sees any colour-ringed Canadas or Greylags away from the public-feeding sites at Bowness-on-Windermere, could they please report them by email to or by post to Roy Armstrong, Habberley Cottage, Port Carlisle, Cumbria, CA7 5BU

NY4823 and NY4824

After many years of surveying David & Ros are unable to continue with these two BBS squares. If you would like to take them on or perhaps another BBS square near you. Just two visits required in spring every year. Contact one of the BTO reps.

Brantwood - volunteer bird surveyors needed

Brantwood Brantwood is the former home of the Victorian art critic, writer, and campaigner John Ruskin. The estate is 250 acres of land rising steeply from the east shore of Coniston Water in the South Lakes. Of this about 100 acres is semi ancient woodland - primarily deciduous with oaks, ash, sycamore, silver birch with an understorey of hazel, holly, rowan and abundant ground cover.

Much of the woodland is of a similar age - many of the oaks are around 100 - 150 years old, and over the last few years various schemes have been introduced to increase the amount of regeneration taking place and to increase the diversity of habitats available. This has included erecting a deer fence around a large area of woodland - which the brambles have certainly appreciated - and more recently starting a policy of creating 'clearings' of around 50m x 50m to encourage the next generation of young trees.

It is also hoped that this will increase the range of habitats for wildlife and birds within the woodland - particularly species such as flycatchers, redstarts and warblers. We would like to get some idea of the current population of our woodland birds and perhaps do some resurvey work when the work is complete in around five years time.

If anyone is interested in this as a sort of project we would be very interested in hearing from them - I can be contacted at work on 015394 41396, or at home on 01229 885101.

If you want to know more about the estate and gardens you can have a look at our website at

Dave Charles, Brantwood Estate Team