The spring of 2012 will see the first dedicated survey run by BTO Cymru who will be taking the lead on a pilot survey of three of our Chat species, namely the resident Stonechat Saxicola torquatus, and the migrants Whinchat Saxicola reubetra, and Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe.
Results from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show that Stonechat numbers have fallen sharply after the last two cold winters, while Whinchat and Wheatear have shown declines in both range and numbers. The long-term trends for Whinchat and Wheatear are both showing declines of over 55%. Preliminary analysis of data from Bird Atlas 2007-11 appears to confirm the long-term BBS trends and highlights areas from which the species have disappeared in the last twenty years.
The primary method for monitoring bird populations is the Breeding Bird Survey, for which nearly 250 random squares are surveyed annually in Wales by BTO volunteers. A targeted survey is needed to obtain more detailed information on scarcer species such as the chats and the habitat features that are most important to them.
The survey will be conducted by volunteers surveying randomly selected 1km squares during three visits, April, May and June, with the whole square being covered and all target species being plotted on maps. This is going to be an on-line survey, having a similar feel to existing BTO surveys.
If you feel like taking part and enjoying visiting some stunning countryside visitthe BTO website at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/chat/ about or contact the BTO Cymru office on 01248 383285 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.