Surveys

Tawny Owl: Mark Tomlins

BTO Tawny Owl Point and Calling Surveys

The surveys form part of (see BTO Project Owl) and are on-line surveys, although paper recording forms can be downloaded or requested.

The Point Survey required volunteers to listen for Tawny Owls in a total of 81 priority tetrads within a selected number of 10km squares in Kent: TQ73, TQ76, TR03, TR06 and TR36. An excellent 94% of the priority tetrads were allocated to volunteers and is hoped that data was submitted for most or all of these. Many thanks to those who volunteered.

It was originally intended that the survey would be repeated in February – March, however, the BTO have decided against this due to the practicality of conducting visits at the required times at this time of year. It has also been decided that there will be no repeat of the survey in autumn 2019. Preliminary results are available which indicate some decline in this, our most common owl species, although more will be reported later.

The Calling Survey is ongoing and the BTO are hoping to enlist 10,000 volunteers. So far over 7,500 people have taken part. The survey requires volunteers to listen for Tawny Owls from their garden (or other easily accessed location) on one occasion each week from September 30th 2018 to March 31st 2019 for 20 minutes between sunset and midnight, or as many weeks as you are able to listen.
Full details


Fieldfare: Mike Hook

English Winter Bird Survey (EWBS) – A new BTO Survey

A new survey is being launched this winter which aims to evaluate how food resources in winter affect birds in lowland farmland, organised in partnership with Natural England and Defra. The structure and methodology of the survey closely follows that of the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and is to be conducted in the same squares. The survey differs from the BBS in that it includes Brown Hare as well as birds and requires habitat details to be recorded on each visit. A maximum of four visits are required, one per month, from December 2018 – March 2019. It is possible to do just two visits which should be between January and March. Although the main focus of the survey is lowland farmland in England, the BTO welcome volunteers to take up squares that contain all other habitats.

Full details of the survey including links to survey instructions, recording forms etc. can be found on the BTO website

Please note that although it is required that results are entered online, through BBS-online, the data entry system will not be available until after mid February. Participants should keep their field recording sheets safe until the online data entry becomes active.

For Kent this survey will be administered directly by the BTO and further details or subsequent problems will be dealt with by the EWBS survey organisers: David Norfolk and Greg Conway – email:


Tawny Owl by Tony Morris

Herring Gulls: Tony Morris

JNCC Seabird Count 2015/19 – calling all Larophiles!

In 2019 there will be a national census of urban nesting Gulls. This follows last year’s survey of naturally nesting seabirds as part of the 4th UK seabird census (called the Seabird Count) which has been running since 2015 but only fully funded and nationally coordinated since 2018. The census has been developed by the Seabird Monitoring Panel (SMP) and is coordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), managed by national organiser Daisy Burnell and a team of county organisers for which I volunteered for Kent.
Full details

Last year in Kent we achieved almost 100% coverage of our regular naturally nesting seabirds which comprise Fulmar, Cormorant, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern and Common Tern. My thanks to the various local organisers who arranged coverage for their regions of the county. Results have been collated and are being entered on the JNCC national database. It is hoped that the data from the 2018 and 2019 fieldwork will be presented in a future paper in the Kent Bird Report and will document the first census of our seabirds for many years.

It’s now time to prepare for the final year of the Seabird Count which will be of our urban nesting Gulls. This will be no mean feat as Kent has huge numbers of roof nesting Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, not just on houses in our coastal towns but inland too, particularly on factory roofs in industrial estates.

Although details of the methodology have not yet been rolled out, the approach will be to undertake sample counts from which estimates of total numbers will be made. It is therefore important that we know where all our urban Gulls are located. The results of the Kent Breeding Bird Atlas will be used but it is likely that birds may have spread since. I will be contacting last year’s local organisers to help again, and to spread the word and enlist volunteers to assist, if necessary, in their areas.

If anyone wishes to take part please let me know and I will suggest an area in which they can help and local organiser to contact, unless of course they have an area already in mind that they would like to count. I would also appreciate if anyone knowing of nesting Gulls on houses or factories at sites in Kent could let me know of the location so that I can direct survey effort. Please don’t assume that a site or town is a known breeding site already, it may not be, and I would like the survey to be as complete as possible.
Please contact me at
Murray Orchard


English Farm Woodland Bird Survey (EFWBS) A new BTO survey.

Song Thrush


Since 1988, over 22,000 farm woods have been planted in England.  The woods are mostly small, between 1 and 5 hectares in size, which will make survey coverage quite quick and straightforward.  These farm woods were planted in a wide variety of settings, ranging from complete isolation through to alongside existing established woodland. This provides a very interesting natural experiment to assess how well birds have colonised these new woodlands on farmland.
A new survey for 2019 plans to provide data on how birds have colonised woods planted in farmland.
What is required?
This survey will cover many of the 69 farm woodland sites previously surveyed in 1999, as well as up to 2000 other farm woods, which haven’t been surveyed at all.
The sites are small, so it should be possible to cover a number of woodland plots in a morning; each plot should take around 20 to 30 minutes to survey, depending on size!
Four morning visits are required between 15th March 2019 and 15th July 2019, to record all in and around the farm wood plot.  Registrations will be recorded on site maps, using Common Bird Census species and activity codes, mainly to accurately plot all individuals and help avoid double counting.  A summary of the number of territories detected will then be determined from each survey visits.
Some basic, but essential, habitat recording will be required for farm wood, to record the features such as tree species, boundary type and mammal activity.
How to sign up for the survey
From mid-January it will be possible to register for the survey. You will be able to view an interactive map of farm woodland locations, summarised by 1-km squares, from which you can select the sites you would like to survey.
Some squares may only have single farm woods, whereas others will have many, so we would encourage you to pick squares with multiple farm woods if possible.
Once a location has been selected, we will then need to contact the landowner to request permission to survey the site, which isn’t guaranteed, and then provide contact and visit details to the surveyor.
Further information
More detailed survey information, including instructions and recording is in preparation and will be available in early 2019.
You can contact the survey organisers Daria Dadam and Greg Conway via