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Post Info TOPIC: Questions and Answers, Atlas related


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RE: Questions and Answers, Atlas related


A pertinent question, Henry! I've just written a short piece for the next County Report on this very subject.

Basically, all the data is now collected and validated, so the next step is the analysis and writing...

... however the Atlas production team is basically the same as the County Report production team, all of whom are a bit overloaded with work

As soon as we have finished the current county report we will have a get together to produce a plan and timetable.

Don't hold your breath but we haven't forgotten the atlas

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Hi, just wondering how the production of the local atlas is going and whether there is a publication date in mind?

Thanks.
Henry.

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Steve Atkins wrote:

As the end of the breeding season approaches some family parties have already started merging together into flocks (species such as Goldfinch and the tits). With other species, such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, which don't form flocks (at least I've never seen one!) the juveniles will be dispersing away from the breeding areas.

Although no one has asked this question I thought it worthwhile highlighting that the Code FL (recently fledged or downy young) should only be used for chicks (ducks & waders) or juvenile birds which are accompanied by adults and clearly still dependent on them. Dependency can usually be established by seeing the juvs begging for food (it doesn't matter if they don't actually get fed!) or the adults seen feeding the young. With waders or ducks the juvs should still be downy and may be seen swimming towards or running towards the adult(s) for shelter / protection.

It is important that records of independent juveniles or those in a large flock not showing dependency are not submitted to the Atlas. At this time of year many species such as Waders, Wheatear and Whinchat will start turning up in places where they have not bred, as they migrate south. As a rule of thumb if you have regularly visited a site during the breeding season without seeing a particular species and then see a juv turn up, the chances are its parents did not breed locally.

The above was posted on 18th July 2010. As it is still relevant, in this final breeding season for the national and GM Atlases, I've repeated it to save people time scrolling through all the previous posts. It also saves me time having to rewrite a slightly different version.

Steve



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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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"please use code D which means Courtship (a rather old-fashioned word I suppose and Display. "

Yes, have done

"Birds aren't all that different to humans in many respects...."

I wont comment on the dangers of that type of activity whilst 200ft up on a narrow ledge !!!!!!

cheers
Nick



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Good question Nick,

please use code D which means Courtship (a rather old-fashioned word I suppose smile.gif) and Display.

Just because a pair of birds are "at it" it doesn't mean they are going to nest in the tetrad where the behaviour is observed (I know this from watching my local Kestrels). That's why it's a Probable breeding code rather than Confirmed.

Birds aren't all that different to humans in many respects...smile.gif

Keep up the good work!

Cheers, Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Bill/Steve

Why is there no breeding code for "mating"??? Two Kestrels at it for ages on the top of the Hovis Building in Trafford Park today and the closest breeding code I can put against it is "display" !!!!! Surely the act of mating is a better potential indicator than some of the other codes !!!!!!

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We might know the answer to this Gropper problem next year for sure. A new ringer has just registered an area which happens to be particularly good for this species. It's a bit too late for this year but next year should provide the answer which I suspect will be yes, 2 broods!
(And no, I do not intend to divulge where this area is, or the identity of the ringer, to save asking...)


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Judith Smith __________________________________ Lightshaw hall Flash is sacrosanct - NO paths please!


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Two steps forward smile.gifsmile.gif and one step back cry.gif

This Saturday morning saw the Gropper drop a into sedge tussock as though visiting nest but then I looked across the river and saw a Spotted Flycatcher exactly where I'd seen one on 30th May (whilst looking unsuccessfully for the Gropper). Had tried to relocate it on several occasions without luck. Another "dodgy" T code!

I suppose this highlights the importance of persistence, but a few more hours in the day would help!

Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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I'm not sure whether we have any hard evidence from GM of Gropper producing more than one brood (Judith may know), but would think it highly likely given the length of time they are present during the breeding season.

I'm sure Steve you must have saved to My Favourites the link to the Bird Facts section of the BTO website Bird Facts biggrin.gif This says that incubation for this species is 14 days and fledging 12 -13 days with first clutches laid anytime between 6th May and 7th July. So this could theoretically give them time for 3 broods.

The same source also says "TitBit: The distinctive sound of this bird has been variously likened to, the sound made by insects, mill wheels, spinning wheels and fishing reels, reflecting technological progress more than a change in the bird's song."

My records from Watergrove show earliest and latest dates for birds reeling as follows:
2008 - 29th May and 8th Aug
2009 - 28th April and 1st Aug
But they weren't reeling continuously between these dates.

An interesting snippet from the 2008 Lancs Bird report says: "

9 juveniles were trapped and ringed between 2 July & 23 Aug at Middleton Industrial Estate, believed to have been the product of 3 broods from 2 pairs"

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Thanks for your reassuring reply, Steve. This is the first Gropper I've found in Greater Manchester. Have seen (and more often heard) them on holidays in Scotland, but am never there long enough to actually learn much about their behaviour. All the books I've studied haven't been much help, so thanks for the pointer to the British Birds article - I'll dig it out of my archive (a cardboard box at the back of a cupboard somewhere). Maybe I should buy the BB CD or DVD or whatever it is?

What I have read so far suggests 2 broods as normal in the South of England. Do you know if they manage to raise two oop 'ere in't North?

Cheers, Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Steve,

Don't worry you're not the only person asking themselves questions about the Atlas confuse.gif
I've spoken to Simon Hitchen about this trait of Grasshopper Warblers, reeling when they first arrive in spring, then going quiet making you think they've left the area, and then suddenly reeling again in July. We've both had experience of this in Rochdale. So it's not just Oldham groppers that play this trick.

We both agreed that the most plausible explanation for this is that the birds reel to attract a mate and that once they've found one they settle down to the business of breeding. Given that this species tends to occur at low densities the absence of other groppers in the immediate area means there is no need to continue reeling to defend their territory. They presumably start reeling again once the juvs from the first brood (s) have fledged. Perhaps the resumption of reeling makes the female receptive to mating again or is done as an insurance policy to ward of any other groppers that might be moving through the area on autumn migration. Pure speculation on my part, but there is an article in British Birds 83:131 - 145 (1990) Breeding Biology of the Grasshopper Warbler in Britain which may be worth reading.

Birds in England states: "The species has an extended breeding season, with eggs being laid between late April and the beginning of August, potentially allowing up to three broods to be raised each year"

So to answer your question, in my humble opinion, you should record this as T given that the bird was present for 5 days in May. A spring migrant would surely have passed through the area in 24hrs.

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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I know I'm the BTO Atlas organiser but occasionally I need to ask questions too. I'm always having to ask myself questions and I don't always get a satisfactory answer smile.gifsmile.gif

On Saturday morning (last day of the atlas recording season - though note Steve A's comments below) something told me to check out the field where I'd noted a reeling Grasshopper Warbler back in May, and there it was, reeling away merrily. Rather a shock I must admit.

I'd only seen it on 22 & 23 May. Iain Johnson saw it on 26 May and since then nothing had been seen or heard. It hadn't been there long enough to record anything better than "possible breeding" (a bird Singing in suitable Habitat). Now I'd found it singing at the same site, 9 weeks from the first record, I should record it as "probable breeding" (permanent Territory) but to me this didn't seem quite right. If I'd only made two TTVs to the area and heard it on both occasions, then I'd be happy to record it as a territorial male but I'd been back there on numerous occasions and been convinced that it was a bird on passage which had moved on to breed elsewhere.

I've tried thinking how I would record a different species (Yellow Wagtail for example) with only two sightings 9 weeks apart, and I'm sure I would regard that as a migrant - but nothing is quite as secretive in the breeding season as a Gropper. Has anyone else faced this sort of dilemma? I guess I'm going to have to keep checking the site in the hope of seeing an aduly carrying food (FF) or even a fledged juv (FL) and if I fail, there's always next year!

Steve confuse.gifconfuse.gif

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Although the core period for the Atlas 2010 breeding season and completion of TTVs ended on 31st July you can still submit Roving Records during August for confirmed breeding.

Multi-brooded species such as House Martins and Swallows may still be feeding young either in or out of the nest. Carrion Crows are still in family groups with juvs calling loudly to be fed and even Little Ringed Plover may still be accompanying dependent juvs from replacement clutches.

August is a particularly good month to confirm breeding of raptors such as Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and if you're really lucky Hobby biggrin.gif

Please keep the records coming.

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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I'm afraid there is no answer to your first question Ian. All species are generally aged by different plumage features depending on the species and/or very subtle feather details/shapes/wear. It's a very complex subject indeed. Your term 'first season adult' I assume means the first year in which it attains full adult plumage? This varies too from species to species from a few months to five or six years!

As for House Sparrows, males cannot (for all intents and purposes) be aged after their first moult which occurs a few months after being born.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Monday 26th of July 2010 12:14:35 PM

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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)


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A question that i keep meaning to as ishow do you know whether a bird is firdt season adult or second? I have been watching the house sparrows that come into my garden and have observed that on set of males have more distinctive colours and markings.

Another thing i have observed there seems to be a lot more males (first & Second years) around than females

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As the end of the breeding season approaches some family parties have already started merging together into flocks (species such as Goldfinch and the tits). With other species, such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, which don't form flocks (at least I've never seen one!) the juveniles will be dispersing away from the breeding areas.

Although no one has asked this question I thought it worthwhile highlighting that the Code FL (recently fledged or downy young) should only be used for chicks (ducks & waders) or juvenile birds which are accompanied by adults and clearly still dependent on them. Dependency can usually be established by seeing the juvs begging for food (it doesn't matter if they don't actually get fed!) or the adults seen feeding the young. With waders or ducks the juvs should still be downy and may be seen swimming towards or running towards the adult(s) for shelter / protection.

It is important that records of independent juveniles or those in a large flock not showing dependency are not submitted to the Atlas. At this time of year many species such as Waders, Wheatear and Whinchat will start turning up in places where they have not bred, as they migrate south. As a rule of thumb if you have regularly visited a site during the breeding season without seeing a particular species and then see a juv turn up, the chances are its parents did not breed locally.

-- Edited by Steve Atkins on Sunday 18th of July 2010 11:58:43 AM

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Hi Nick,

An excellent question!

Roving records are primarily a means of accumulating evidence of breeding and for providing records of nocturnal species. I can't recall seeing anything in black and white that states whether you should include or exclude recently fledged young specifically for roving record counts, however the instructions from the BTO for the more formal surveys also know as Timed Tetrad Visits or TTVs states "Please try to exclude juveniles (birds of the year) where possible, although this can become more difficult as the breeding season progresses. The term 'adults' includes all birds in immature plumage that you may encounter eg gulls, Cormorants, raptors". As I understand it is the data from these TTVs that will be the main source for compiling population estimates and the roving records will help fill out the distribution maps and let us know what species are breeding and in which areas of GM they are doing so.

So for the roving records submission page, using the guidelines set out by the BTO for TTVs the figure should just include those classed as adult birds.

Hope this is of some help?

Thanks for your question and of course good luck with your roving records!

Best wishes,


Bill.

-- Edited by Bill Myerscough on Sunday 11th of July 2010 07:20:22 PM

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GREATER MANCHESTER NEEDS YOUR BIRD SIGHTINGS!


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On the roving records submission page should the number entered into the "count (optional)" box be "number of young" or "total number of young plus adults" when recording "recently fledged (FL)" ??

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Hi Brandon,

You are not the only person to have asked this question. Basically, anyone can submit records from any tetrad and we would encorage people to do so.
There are two recording methods for the Atlas

1) Timed Tetrad Visits (TTVs) - these consist of 2 breeding season visits and 2 winter visits to a tetrad and are carried out normally by one person who has been allocated the tetrad. The primary purpose of the TTVs is to enable relative abundance of species to be mapped for the national Atlas. In other words identify the areas with the highest density of a particular species on a sliding scale down to the areas with the lowest densities.

2) Roving Records - these can be submitted by anyone from any tetrad and are of key importance in enabling us to confirm breeding of as many species as possible in each tetrad. The TTVs don't allow us to confirm breeding of all the species nesting in a tetrad because the total time spent in any tetrad during the breeding season is only 4 hours.

So, if you and any other GM birder sees evidence of confirmed breeding, please submit a Roving Record to the BTO Atlas website. You can check the 10km summaries beforehand if you prefer, available here 10km summaries
to see whether we still need a confirmed breeding record for the species in the tetrad. There are still a lot of gaps to be filled, even for the most common species, so to save time you can just submit the record without checking.



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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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This may be a question that has come up before, but i will ask it anyway. If an area has already got someone allocated for all seasons is it possible to have more than one persons input for that area? If so how would it be done?

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A very good question indeed from Rob - one which I have asked myself recently!

Near to my home, a tetrad boundary runs right down the centre of the river. One morning the other week I saw a Kingfisher (with fish in beak) fly from one bank to the other (in the next tetrad) and present the fish to its mate. They then both flew back into the other tetrad. What do I record? (easy D for "Display and courtship" - which like P for "Pair in suitable habitat" means probable breeding) but in which tetrad?

I made a note of the precise location and will keep up observations in the hope of finding the nest site which will answer the tetrad question, but checking the old GM atlas I discovered that (as a Schedule 1 protected species) Kingfisher records were not mapped by tetrad anyway!

Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Hi Rob,

That's an important question you've asked. I would recommend that you submit a tetrad record to the Atlas and a site record to Judith for the county report, so we have the precise location of your sighting.

You say that you are "fairly certain" that Common Tern doesn't breed in the tetrad (assume this is SD50Z Haigh CP), but one of the reasons why we are working on a new Atlas is because our current knowledge of the distributions of GM's birds is far from complete. Many people taking part in the Atlas have found all sorts of interesting species in places they had not previously visited. Looking at the OS map of the area, I notice there are a few small water bodies which a pair could potentially be nesting on.
Judith may be able to advise how far Common Tern are likely to travel from a nest site and whether or not this bird could have been from a known breeding site.
In any case for the less common species we will be reviewing the individual records before publishing the maps, so it's better to have the record than not.

If you do know for certain that a nest site is in an adjacent tetrad to the one in which you actually see a bird carrying food, then it's preferable to submit the record for the tetrad the birds are nesting in. For example, last year I saw a Green Woodpecker feeding 2 juvs in the Rochdale area, close to the border line between 2 tetrads. The family party then flew into the adjacent tetrad where there was an old tree with woodpecker holes which was almost certainly the nest site.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw a Starling carrying food which flew towards some houses in the neighbouring tetrad (SD91A) to the one I was standing in (SD91B). So I recorded as in SD91A.

However, at the end of the day the most important thing is that the records are submitted. To quote the authors of BBGM " We wish to emphasise that the important aspect of the maps is the overall distribution. When the task is repeated in the future, it will be the changes in overalll distribution that will be of most interest."





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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Question: Birds carrying food are being Included in the breeding atlas, but what if the nest is in a different tetrad to where you observe the adult bird carrying food? For example, when twitching the Turtle Dove at Haigh, I observed a Common Tern flying south along the canal carrying a fish. I'm fairly certain that Common Terns do not nest in the Haigh area, so if I was to submit this record wouldn't it give a false picture?

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Ian,

Firstly many thanks for setting up this new section on the forum devoted to the GM Breeding Atlas. The answer to your friend's question is yes.
The national and GM Atlases will cover the breeding seasons 2008 to 2011. So if anyone has records from the 2008 and 2009 breeding seasons (basically April to July - although earlier / later records of confirmed breeding are still of interest) then it's not too late to submit them via the BTO website Bird Atlas

For the GM Atlas we only need one confirmed breeding record per species from each tetrad (2km square) to produce the distribution maps. So there is no need to submit large numbers of records, for which Steve Suttill and I will be eternally grateful as we have the job of validating all the recordscry.gif

The simplest way to find out whether we still need a record for Starling in SD60V Gin Pit is:
1) work out which 1km square the bird was in (use an OS map or A-Z to do this)
2) look on the GM tetrad map GM Tetrad Map to find out the tetrad ref and name.
3)Then look on the 10km summary for that square (in this case SD60) 10km Breeding Summaries Column V tells you that we have no record for Starling in that tetrad.
Amazing that all this info is at your fingertips on Manchester Birding!
As you will see the answer is yes, we do need a record from this tetrad.
If you can't be bothered to do the above just submit the record anywaybiggrin.gif

If anyone has a question about the national or GM Atlas just post it on here and one of us will reply.

Steve

-- Edited by Steve Atkins on Tuesday 1st of June 2010 10:09:30 PM

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Here's one for you Mr. Atkins .

A friend recently asked me if his records could be backdated on the BTO's website for he has information from the past couple of years which may be useful but he has not yet submitted.

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Ian McKerchar (forum administrator and owner)
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