This autumn BTO are running a Tawny Owl Survey (15 August - 15 October) and are looking for volunteers to help. It is a repeat of the 1989 survey and requires a single ten-minute count in the centre of a tetrad after sunset. It's a great opportunity for birders to get involved in local fieldwork and won't take up too much time!
It is interesting to speculate whether numbers have increased or decreased since 1989, as the Tawny Owl is not well monitored by traditional BTO survey methods. Results from the Common Birds Census up to the early 1990s show a stable trend, although information from the Breeding Bird Survey shows a 38% decline between 1994 and 2004. Changes between the two Breeding Atlases showed some evidence for a contraction of the species' UK range. Fieldwork for the New Breeding Atlas was completed in 1991 so we have no up-to-date picture of their distribution since then. Detailed information collected through the Nest Record Scheme shows substantial improvements in nest success during the 30-day egg stage and this could be linked to the declining impact of organochlorine pesticides.
The survey is being organised by the BTO network of Regional Representatives (RRs). The aim is to re-visit all the tetrads (2km by 2km square) that were covered in the 1989 survey, and if there are enough volunteers to cover additional tetrads. To find out who your RR is, use the links below or contact me direct at BTO if there is no RR in your area. Just email your RR to express your interest and you'll be allocated a tetrad (or more if you wish!) to cover and sent appropriate paperwork. Some counties have many more tetrads to cover than others and really need the help.
It would be great to achieve good coverage this autumn to compare with the results from 1989. Do you think numbers will be up or down?