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Waterford Atlas: how to help


This project is funded by the Heritage Council (Wildlife Grant 2008 and 2009, Heritage Grant 2010)

How can I help? 


For both breeding season and winter coverage, we are looking for volunteers, of varying levels of experience or enthusiasm, who can contribute bird records from around the county and help ensure gaps in coverage are filled and nothing much is missed!  There are two main types of surveying involved, one or other (or both!) of which may suit your particular level of experience or confidence.  Both will involve the use of Ordnance Survey maps to record accurate locations (and further guidance will be provided on this).


Roving Records (RRs):  The first type of surveying will potentially be of interest to the largest number of volunteers - i.e. anyone who can send in records of any species, with information on their breeding status if available, from any part of the county during April-July of the years 2006-11 and November-February of the winters 2007/8-10/11.  A copy of the Roving Records form used for summer 2007 is downloadable here.  For the national atlas (November 2007 onwards), download RR form.


For details of the codes and definitions used for recording the breeding status of species encountered during April-July, click breeding categories.


Timed Tetrad Visits (TTVs):  This is the second, more intensive part of both summer and winter fieldwork.  For the breeding season, it involves at least 2 hours of timed morning surveys to each tetrad (2-km x 2-km square) in Co Waterford.  (For winter coverage, a sample of of about one-third of all tetrads will be the minimum target.)   Essentially each TTV involves surveying a tetrad, with the help of maps, to record all the bird species seen or heard within an hour – then repeating the survey later in the same season.  Detailed counts of individual birds (other than juveniles fledged the same year) were also recorded for scarcer species in summers 2006-07, and counts of all species will be needed for the national atlas.  Many species will best be detected by sound, i.e. recognizing the song and the range of calls of a given species.  Thus not all local birdwatchers may feel they have the necessary skills - but they can be learned by practice or listening to bird tapes or CDs.  So, over the next four summers, we’d hope that some Roving Recorders will also take on Timed Tetrad Visits as their skill and confidence grows. 


Of course, everyone who makes Timed Tetrad Visits can also contribute as a Roving Recorder, as inevitably Kestrels etc will be seen from the car window etc.


A copy of the Timed Tetrad Visit form used for summer 2007 is downloadable here.  For the national atlas, download TTV instructions.  TTV forms for winters 2007/08 onwards and summers 2008 onwards will be provided once an observer has been allocated tetrads to cover.


Other wildlife


In Waterford, we will also be collecting records of other wildlife seen in the tetrads (mammals, butterflies and dragonflies mainly) to provide a more comprehensive account of wildlife in the county over the period of the survey.  Please keep a separate note of these and report to  the local organiser.


Songs and calls


If you have access to the Internet using broadband, a useful site for getting to know songs and calls is:


which on the top left of the page provides A to Z access to details of individual bird species, especially the audio/video links. Remember many of the smaller species may be heard before they are seen so it is important to know the songs & calls of the individual species, especially before attempting the more intensive Timed visits.  Useful commercial recordings of birdsong are also available, e.g. “British Bird Sounds on CD” from BirdWatch Ireland:



Signing up as a volunteer


For winter coverage (Nov-Feb 2007-2011) and the breeding season (April-July 2008-2011), you can sign up online at Bird Atlas 2007-2011.  In particular, if you'd like to take part in the most detailed part of the survey, i.e. Timed Tetrad Visits in summer or winter, it's important to agree in advance the tetrads you'll be covering, to avoid duplication of effort.  (See also maps above for details of tetrads already allocated, and an indication of priority tetrads.) Alternatively, if you'd like further information, or have records to contribute, please click here.  Make sure to include a postal address if you'd like a supply of printed  recording forms.  


Above all, enjoy the Atlas and the habitats of the county over the coming seasons.


How many 10-km squares and 2-km tetrads in Co Waterford? - click here
Downloadable copies of instructions, maps & recording forms - click here


How does the Waterford Atlas fit in with other bird surveys?


A national atlas of breeding and wintering birds throughout Ireland and Britain - Bird Atlas 2007-2011 - started in November 2007.  This is being organized by BirdWatch Ireland (BWI) in Ireland, in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Britain.  It will update two earlier national breeding atlases (1968-72 and 1988-91) and the 1981-84 winter atlas (see previous atlases).  These earlier surveys involved substantial fieldwork in Waterford, but not on the scale planned for the local atlas during 2006-11.  See Atlas 2007-11 Introduction and How to Help.  Records collected for ongoing projects such as the Garden Bird Survey, Countryside Bird Survey, I-WeBS and bird ringing will also contribute to the national atlas.


Breeding-season fieldwork for the Waterford Atlas will of course contribute to the national atlas during 2008-11, and the methods are fully compatible with the wider survey.  Coverage in Waterford will be more intensive and has started two years earlier than elsewhere in Ireland, because (unlike most counties) we’re attempting complete coverage.  But the national survey should provide extra incentive for fieldworkers in Waterford to carry on for the next four years, with the aim of seeing results in print both at local and national scales. 


Waterford coverage of wintering birds will be less intensive than breeding season coverage, but a good contribution to the national survey is planned.  (For winter coverage, at least 8 out of 25 tetrads will be covered in each 10-km square, or all tetrads in any coastal squares that have fewer than 8 full tetrads.)



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