Survey Opportunities

Cumbria Rookery Survey: April 2022

The Cumbria Bird Club has undertaken two previous surveys of rookeries throughout the county in 1996 and 2013. The results of the last survey confirmed a significant decline in both the number of rookeries (-5.3%) and the number of nests (-39%) in Cumbria during the period between the two field-work years. The 2022 survey will aim to update the status of Rooks in the county, identifying changes in their population and distribution.

Locating rookeries and counting nests is relatively straightforward requiring no previous experience of survey work. In addition, relevant information from the 2013 survey will be available to all participants. However, Rooks do frequently change the sites of their colonies and some exploration will be necessary to achieve full coverage. Between 1996 and 2013, 426 rookeries were deserted while 372 new sites had been established. Preliminary dates for the survey are Saturday 9th April to Sunday 24th April and survey instructions and recording forms will be sent out in March. There are still many rookeries in most parts of Cumbria and the success of the project will depend on recruiting sufficient volunteers to cover the whole of the county.

If you are interested in taking part in the survey please contact Malcolm Priestley, identifying an area that you would like to cover (eg a 10 kilometre square).
Malcolm Priestley, Havera Bank, Howgill Lane, Sedbergh, Cumbria. LA10 5HB Tel: 015396 20104

Swifts survey 2021

CBC council is keen that this survey continues for another year. If you would like help please contact Dave Piercy.

The CBC Winter Wetland Survey (2019-20)

The CBC winter survey of freshwater bodies in Cumbria not monitored by the BTO Wetland bird survey begins in November 2019. Sites of interest have been identified in most ten kilometre squares in the county. However, further information about recently developed wetlands and regular floodwaters would be useful at this stage. The survey requires two visits to selected waters, one in early and the other in late winter to record the number of wetland birds present including wildfowl, crakes, waders and gulls.

Thank you to those of you who have already registered an interest in the project. Further information and recording forms will be distributed shortly and the regional co-ordinators will be in contact to suggest promising water bodies to visit in your area.  More fieldworkers are needed in all parts of the county to cover as many of the abundant wetland sites in Cumbria as possible. If you are able to take part, please contact us.  There are separate organisers for each of these four areas in Cumbria:

  • North Cumbria and Lower Vale of Eden
  • West Cumbria
  • North West Cumbria and Central Lakes
  • South Cumbria

Tawny owl surveys

CBC Council is keen to carry out surveys of the various owl species in Cumbria. Initially this will involve supporting the forthcoming BTO surveys of Tawny Owls.

They are running two types of survey:

  • A point survey visiting random tetrads, 2018-2020. A map of tetrads available can be found online. The first period is up until 15 October 2018.
  • A calling survey. This is a 20 minute survey that can be carried out from the comfort of your own home or pretty much anywhere else you can visit multiple times. Registration is now open and you can start recording from 30 September 2018. 
For full details visit:

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 Cavendish Docks and Roosecote Sands

There is a vacancy for a keen person to cover the area from Cavendish Docks and Roosecote Sands. 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 required.

Please contact Mike Douglas coordinator for Morecambe Bay North WeBS counts for further information.

WeBS counter needed for Border & Calvo Marshes

We are looking for a WeBS counter to help out at Border and Calvo Marshes near Abbeytown. These are large marshes with a long walk where a knowledge of the geography of the marshes and the tides is essential to count safely. A few counts can be carried out alongside the existing counter to find the best way to count the section. The area holds good numbers of barnacle geese, wigeon, dunlin, curlew and a host of other waterbirds – a great day’s birding once a month and chance to contribute to an important survey, helping protect the UK’s most important bird sites.

Please contact Dave Blackledge, coordinator for Inner Solway WeBS counts for further information.

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 .