A call for volunteers in 2018

The great thing about birding is that it offers something different to everyone whether you enjoy watching birds in your garden, ringing or searching for rarities, maybe that elusive first for Suffolk, or just getting out there in all weathers throughout the year with every season offering something new to see.  Birding offers opportunities for all tastes and all ages but, as we all know, our birds and their habitats are under pressure from developments and agricultural intensification both contributing to loss of habitat pushing some species to the edge of extinction in the UK.

Surveys help us keep pace with change; who are the winners, who are the losers and providing the evidence to lobby for change.  Lack of funds and resources means that much of this information is provided by volunteers.  Whatever your interests, helping with surveys is an opportunity to contribute to our understanding of birds and their environment in Suffolk, to make a real and valuable contribution to their continued and future conservation.  As SOG Projects Officer, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated volunteers who have already given so much of their spare time and to ask for your assistance again in 2018.

There are opportunities in the coming year to engage with surveys for a wide range of habitats and species that will, I am sure, appeal to all tastes and interests whether you enjoy searching wide horizons for sea birds, or carefully scoping grazing marshes for breeding waders.  There is a great opportunity to explore new farmland habitats that you may not have had opportunity to visit before.  If you have time to take on farm surveys and are happy for your contact details to be passed onto farmers please drop me a line at keeling.chris@icloud.com or phone 01394 278771 and I will forward your details to the RSPB Farm Survey Coordinator. 

Some of you may already have enjoyed early morning farm surveys over the past two summers, listening hopefully for the purring of Turtle Doves, maybe you will be lucky this year as the RSPB are again recruiting volunteers to assist with Turtle Dove surveys across Suffolk and Essex in May and July.  For Turtle Dove surveys contact Katy Froud at katy.froud@rspb.org.uk or call 01603 697592.

We do not propose to repeat the Ringed Plover survey this year but the ongoing Suffolk Wader Strategy is looking for volunteers to survey Redshank and Lapwing on coastal grazing marsh. Contact Robin Harvey at robin.harvey@rspb.org.uk or call 01728 648072 if you are interested in assisting.

Also on the coast, Mick Wright will be coordinating the Sea Bird 2000 Census in Suffolk and would also like to hear from new volunteer fieldworkers.  Mick has also posted a heads up for an Urban Nesting Gull census proposed over the next two years and would like to hear from SOG members who would like to help with the census.  If, like me, you love gulls I recommend that you check the SOG website for more information or contact Mick directly at kupe1515@sky.com.

The monitoring of 1,860 Barn Owl boxes will always be a challenge; nearly 400 barn owl boxes were not checked in 2017 which means that 2018 could be the biggest Barn Owl nest box survey since the project began.  We desperately need more trained nest box surveyors who have the time and energy to commit to the project and ensure that few if any boxes are missed this year please contact Steve Piotrowski at spiotrowski@btinternet.com.

And finally, please don’t forget what I consider to be the iconic bird of summer, the Swift.  Our SOS Swifts campaign has really gathered pace.  It’s fantastically reassuring to know that so many people enjoy and value the sight and sound of swifts skimming the roof tops and streets in town and village, but the volume of enquiries has increased so much that there’s a limit to the time our volunteers can commit. So if you would like to become a volunteer Swift Advisor sign up now by following this link: www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/swift.

If you have any questions or you are having difficulty contacting the project coordinators please do not hesitate to drop me a line at keeling.chris@icloud.com or phone 01394 278771.