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 is hoped that the survey will be repeated next spring in February – March and that the same volunteers will again participate.

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 those who do the BBS survey can go online now at BBS online and “self-allocate” (request to survey) their square by simply ticking the box next to it. From mid-November it will be possible for others to select those squares for the EWBS, but this will not replace the nominate volunteer as the BBS surveyor.

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