<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Newsletter
Newsletter of the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society
Submitting records for next year’s Annual Report
Autumn 2001
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All LDBWS members should by now have received (and hopefully enjoyed reading) their copy of the recently published 'Birds of Lancaster & District 2000'. As the introduction to the species accounts notes the report made a conscious attempt to "include more species and in some cases, more detail than was previously possible". This was a direct consequence of information provided by all the people included in the acknowledgements on pages 66-67, but particularly those people who supplied a written summary of all their more interesting sightings for the year. The aim of this article is to encourage more readers to submit records for the 2001 report and to provide some indication of the most useful types of records. Readers may be forgiven for thinking that with over a quarter of the year still to go it seems a little early to be thinking about the next annual report. However, my hope is that the next report will be able to cover all species that occurred within the recording area during 2001 - though I admit it may prove difficult to write anything very interesting about Pheasant!

In order to compile a report covering all species more information is clearly required about those species that observers have previously either not bothered to or not been encouraged to submit records for. In addition, much potentially useful information simply doesn't exist for 2001 as a consequence of access restrictions during the Foot and Mouth crisis. The next annual report will, for example, have to do without data from any of the national census schemes (eg. WeBS counts and the Breeding Birds Survey), RSPB-sponsored monitoring of upland species within Bowland and Kevin Briggs' detailed studies from the Arkholme area. However, despite these anticipated gaps in our knowledge there will still be plenty to write about and, given the time still available during the remainder of 2001, plenty for all LDBWS members to observe, record and, most importantly, submit details of. The types of records required have been grouped into three main categories (see below) and it is perhaps the third category - commoner birds - for which it is most difficult to specify precisely what constitutes a useful record. However, the basic rule of thumb ought to be 'if in doubt, submit the record'.

Scarcities and rarities

Thanks to the 'Recent News' section of John Mason's website this is the one category for which good information for 2001 already exists. However, it seems likely that news of some scarcities may not have reached John - perhaps the odd petrel, skua, fly-over Osprey or Waxwing. Please don't assume that someone else is bound to submit a particular record - duplicated records are easier to deal with than no record at all. In addition, even if you were not the first person to see a long-staying scarcity during 2001 (eg. the two Little Egrets at Morecambe or the drake Smew at Dockacres/Pine Lake) you might have been the last.

Regular species for which all records are required

The following species have traditionally formed the bulk of the annual report. For many of these species (eg. most of the seabirds and waders) the individual records allow a summarised species account to be compiled. However, given the recent scarcity of some of the species listed below (eg. Brambling and Yellowhammer) it is conceivable that all the records received may go straight into the report.

         Seabirds - Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Guillemot and Razorbill.

         Wildfowl - Bewick's Swan, Whooper Swan, White-fronted Goose (specifying which race if possible), Barnacle Goose, Brent Goose (specifying which race if possible), Garganey, Scaup, Eider, Common Scoter and Ruddy Duck.

         Waders - Little Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.

         Other species - Grey Partridge, Yellow-legged Gull, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Ring Ouzel, Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Sparrow, Brambling, Twite, Hawfinch, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Also all escapes, hybrid wildfowl and hybrid gulls.

         Distinctive sub-species and races - eg. Continental Cormorant, Tundra Ringed Plover, White Wagtail, Greenland Wheatear, etc.

         Blackcap and Chiffchaff - all wintering birds

Commoner species for which some records are required

         Breeding records - Clearly asking for all records of Blackbird nests or recently fledged young is not really a sensible approach to recording. However for many familiar species information about breeding birds, particularly breeding success is of immense importance. Species for which all breeding records should be submitted include Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, all raptors, Grey Partridge, Water Rail, all waders, all gulls including Black-headed Gull (reliable counts of colonies at non-RSPB properties especially), all terns, Cuckoo, all owls, Kingfisher, all woodpeckers, Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Sedge and Reed Warblers (away from Leighton Moss), Wood Warbler, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Nuthatch (especially outside the Arnside & Silverdale AONB), Rook (counts of occupied nests at rookeries), Raven, Siskin, Redpoll and Bullfinch.

         Breeding populations of other common birds - Observers regularly covering a local patch probably have most to offer, particularly if their observations provide a historical assessment of population changes of common (or once common) birds. In this respect the 2000 report included (hopefully useful) data from the Arkholme area and Heysham Nature Reserve for species such as Wren, Dunnock and Robin. Do any readers have good information for the number of pairs and/or breeding success of even the commonest species in an area they watch regularly?

         Large flocks - If you think a given count for any species seems notable then please put a record in. Given the absence of WeBS counts, 'casual' counts of all wildfowl and waders will be all there is to go on for 2001.

         Arrival and departure dates - In addition to recording first/last dates for summer and winter visitors, what about noting significant arrivals/departures for species such as Swift, Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin.

         Visible migration - The key period for 'vis' lasts from mid-September to mid-November and in the right conditions (clear skies and light winds) it should be possible to observe many passerines, including Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Fieldfare, Redwing and various finches moving overhead in a south or south-westerly direction. Coverage is really only good at Heysham Nature Reserve, but what about elsewhere? Why not try making an effort to visit a suitable coastal viewpoint (eg. Jenny Brown's Point, Morecambe Stone Jetty, Heysham Head, Sunderland Point, Cockersands Abbey or Pilling Lane Ends) for a couple of hours from dawn onwards and count everything flying over.

         Extralimital records - Any species well away from its normal habitat and/or breeding areas.

Please send a list of all records relevant records at the end of the year to:

Pete Crooks, 15 Leighton Drive, Lancaster, LA1 5UQ

Or e-mail: p.crooks@ucsm.ac.uk

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