Can you help locate Britain’s Nightingales?


In Britain, Nightingales have declined considerably in both range and population size since the 1960s. BTO is running a 2012 Nightingale Survey to find out the current situation and compare changes by revisiting all sites occupied since the previous 1999 Nightingale Survey. The main aim of the survey is to locate all singing males and compare their numbers and distribution with the previous survey. Also, a novel aspect to the survey will investigate nocturnal singing, which new research suggests is undertaken largely by unpaired males — paired males, on the other hand, tend to sing mainly at dusk and dawn. We aim to find out not just the number and distribution of singing males but also how many, and which habitats and parts of the country, are attracting females. This obviously has major implications for successful conservation and protection measures.

Nightingale, Two Tree Island, Essex (Photo: Steve Hiscock)

We are looking to search almost 3,000 sites, of which around 70% are already allocated to a survey volunteer. There is still time to help cover the remaining sites (see map) and offers of assistance are urgently needed, particularly in Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk. If you can help survey a site, please contact the relevant BTO regional representative who will let you know which sites are available locally and provide you with advice and recording forms.

The main survey involves:

  • Morning visits (between first light and 8.30am) between 21st April and 14th May
  • Optional nocturnal visits (between midnight and 3am) after May 18th

All sightings of Nightingales are required, from all parts of the UK, and should be submitted online using BirdTrack.

Coverage status for the 2012 Nightingale Survey — blue squares are allocated but red squares still need surveyors.

To find out more about the Nightingale Survey 2012, visit www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nightingale-survey.

Written by: Greg Conway and John Marchant — Nightingale Survey 2012 organisers