Birdwatch rules

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Big Garden Birdwatch

Birdwatch rules

  • It has long been a rule that you can only count as a total for each species the highest number that are seen at any time. However, where the males and females are easily distinguishable (blackbirds, sparrows,etc), would it not be sensible to add up the maximum numbers for each sex seen at any one time and them add those together for a species total at the end? Likewise, birds only flying over are not to be counted. What about a bird which lands on a garage roof and looks down into the garden to see whether anything interests it? Should these be counted?
  • In addition, the garden size registered at the outset seems a bit rigid.

    I think it ought to be done by area.

    Our garden is narrow (12m) but very long (100m +) so I opted for the large garden size as being nearest.

  • i hadn't realise fly overs don't count ..  Living in an urban setting with alleys and back yards, most of the birds I get to see are flying over or sitting on a roof ....  They are still birds, aren't they?

  • I took it for granted to count different sexes as two (or more). I saw a male and female blackcap at different times so that was 2 for me.

    I didn't count flyovers but a magpie that was perched on the house opposite was in, as were the wood pigeons on the house next door.

  • I did my count yesterday (Saturdsy) and submitted the results, but today there were a pair of Collard Doves that didn't show up in the main count. I don't know if it's permissible, but I submitted a subsidiary report with just these 2 today and added a note to that effect.

  • I don't think that would be permissible. It's only supposed to be for one continuous hour on either of the two days.

  • Syntarsus

    I don't think that would be permissible. It's only supposed to be for one continuous hour on either of the two days.

    Whilst I agree with you if you interpret the rules strictly, but surely the real object of the exercise was to get a census of UK birds. As I sit here now, on Monday, there is a Greater Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the suet balls. It never showed up on Saturday or Sunday - pity.

  • pjaj

    Whilst I agree with you if you interpret the rules strictly, but surely the real object of the exercise was to get a census of UK birds.

    The British Trust for Ornithology have an ongoing survey where you can create multiple sites (your garden, a park, on holiday etc.) and and upload your own survey, or even just the odd bird, as little or often as you like. It's called Birdtrack and is free and you can keep your own records.

    http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack

    Probably more appropriate for what you want to do. I do both as this one is only once a year.

     

  • Syntarsus

    I don't think that would be permissible. It's only supposed to be for one continuous hour on either of the two days.

     

    I know it is meant to be for one continuous hour only and no doubt they have good reason for this depending on how they calculate their survey numbers but I often think it would be better to just to say the birdwatch is a two day event and for people to count maximum numbers of any species at any time during those two days.  Perhaps the B.T.O survey you mention in another post would suit better as I always feel a bit cheated when I know which birds usually come into the garden but which don't actually show up during my hour.

  • I guess that it is always going to be difficult to be precise about the number of birds in a given area.

    If you have several people taking part in the survey in close proximity then there is every chance that a number of separate recorded sightings for any one same species will probably actually be the same individual birds that have moved from garden to garden.  The longer the observation period and also the longer the window in which to have the observation period, the more likely it is that there will be duplications. I assume that the software used to collate the information can take into account the proximity of observers as entered in the registration process (or am I being overly optimistic?)

  • I wouldn't of thought this would apply as they don't ask for the actual time you do your count or which day.but I understood that the reason it is only 1 hour is to encourage more people to take part.without thinking they had got to spend hours at it.

  • The reason the hour is so important is to apply some kind of scientific baseline to the survey. If some people do the survey for a strict hour, but others list everything they've ever seen in their garden, the data become less meaningful from a scientific point of view.

  • It's clear to see why, as a scientific survey, the one hour rule at the times specified has been in place.....but what about birds that do not appear during this time....OWLS!? Some of us are lucky enough to have regular owls who are only sighted at dawn or after dusk and cannot therefore record them. In view of concerns about the Barn Owl population, for example, is there any survey that takes them into account please?

  • Wyllow , I'm not aware of any specific surveys being undertaken at the moment but your county recorder will always be interested in receiving details of your sitings. As well as the county recorder there are various groups around the country who would also be interested.