Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday 30th January 2011

I took in 5x TTV BTO Atlas this afternoon on a 9-mile bike ride with my two lads.  They were all centred around TQ75, starting off in my own tetrad of Barming Heath and crossing into Aylesford, Allington, Maidstone, Tovil and back.  Amazingly I only managed to add four new species to the winter atlas; 2x  Coot by Allington Marina and Jackdaws on the walls of Allington Castle (Allington TQ75N), A Grey Wagtail at Allington Lock (Sandling & Pratling St TQ75P) and Chiffchaff next to the toilet block between the two bridges at Fairmeadow, Maidstone (Tovil TQ75M).  I was amazed not to add more to the Allington square which has a winter species list of only 31, now including a Coot which was apparently the first one in 4 years if you believe the Atlas records!  I fancied my chances at ticking off Mute Swan, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Fieldfare, Jay and Goldfinch which are still absent from this square, but despite locating some ideal habitats for all these species I couldn't fine them!  Perhaps they aren't there?!


Warren Baker said...

The coot is even rarer here Adam :-) :-)

Josie said...

Hi Adam,
I am very new to birding, started Jan 1 2011 and I am unsure of your meaning here.What is the BTO Atlas and are you referring to species in each square of a map? sorry to be densebut I am keen to learn. BTW I live in Maidstone and work at Preston Hall, so your area is interesting to me.

Adam said...

Hi Josie, welcome to the world of birding! BTO Atlas is a survey being run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) who have been collating sightings from all over the UK for the last four years in order to produce an Atlas of what birds are present in the UK and where and in what numbers. This is is useful as it it can be compared to historic Atlases to see where species have declined or increased. Early results are interesting, showing a big movement westward of Common Buzzards in the last 10 years for example. However there are losers and all this data alerts and helps organisations like the RSPB and BTO. When I talk about squares, these are the 2km squares that the country has been divided up into by the BTO, they are also known as tetrads. The BTO are looking for all of these squares to be surveyed both in the winter and breeding (summer) seasons within the 4 year period to give an idea of what species and the number of that species that lie within the squares. Preston Hall Hospital for example lies across two squares (British Legion Village and Aylesford). These squares along with all the others for Kent are shown on the Kent Ornithological Society website by following this link:

If you click on individual squares it will show what species have already been recorded for winter. There's another map for Breeding season. You can click the 'ordance survey' tab on the left-hand side to get a map of the square.

The Atlas survey will finish this year (having been started in 2007) and you will see that in some squares some common species which in some squares have not been ticked off - they're almost certainly there but have not been reported, for example my Coot in Allington! And just looking at the Aylesford square there's not been a Mallard or Feral Pigeon seen in that area for the last 4 winters if you go by the Atlas data - I can't believe it! If you see any of the missing species they can simply be reported at the BTO's BirdTrack website ( and will be included in the Atlas.

Hopefully that's clarified things - drop me a line if you want to know more..or even better if you see a Treecreeper or Nuthatch at Preston Hall - they're both missing!