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The Waterford Breeding Bird Atlas 2006-2011



The Waterford Breeding Bird Atlas 2006-2011

What is it?  The Waterford Breeding Bird Atlas is an attempt to map, at the level of 2-km x 2-km tetrads, the occurrence and status of breeding and summering birds throughout County Waterford.  Pilot fieldwork in 2006 confirmed the practicality of the methods used, and over 10% of the tetrads in the county received basic coverage.  Larger-scale fieldwork in 2007 has further increased coverage to about one-third of all tetrads (see map below).  A total of six breeding seasons (April-July 2006-2011) will be needed for full coverage, to be followed, we hope, by publication of detailed maps both online and in print form.  This should provide the most thorough documentation to date of Waterford’s breeding avifauna, as a baseline for assessment of future changes and to allow documentation of important breeding habitats in the county.  See below for further details of coverage, methods and how to get involved or click here to request further information or offer help.  Or click Bird Atlas 2007-2011 to take part in the national atlas (winter and summer) November 2007 onwards which Waterford fieldwork will also contribute to - see also the BirdWatch Ireland website for details of Irish coverage, and a recent message from national organiser.  See also the Winter Atlas page for fuller details of the winter survey.  Latest update 9 November 2007.


Coverage update



The map above (updated 9 Nov 2007) gives a preliminary indication of breeding season coverage during 2006 & 2007 (some further updates still to come for 2007).  In addition to the 61 full tetrads where basic coverage (2 hours) was completed in 2006, at least another 108 tetrads had equivalent coverage in 2007.  Combining the two years, at least 35% of the c480 full tetrads in the county have now had two or more hours of timed coverage.  (Another 32+ full tetrads have had at least one hour's coverage, and 17+ 'partial' tetrads, with midpoint below LWM or <50% of land area in Co Waterford, have also had some coverage.)
Sample species map
The maps below shows the recorded distribution of Stonechats and Yellowhammers in Co Waterford during April-July of 2006 and 2007, based on records compiled to date (updated 2 Nov 2007).  Only the basic distribution (by 2-km tetrad) is shown in these example, but more detailed species maps will be produced to indicate proven, probable and possible breeding using different symbols.  We hope to provide preliminary maps for a wider range of species as the survey progresses. s



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 - is due to start 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 five 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.)


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).


The first type of surveying will potentially be of interest to the largest number of volunteers.  This involves Roving Recorders, 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.


The second, more intensive part of both summer and winter fieldwork involves Timed Tetrad Visits.  For the breeding season, this involves at least 2 hours of timed morning surveys to each of the tetrads (2-km x 2-km squares) that make up the land-area of Waterford.  (For winter coverage, a sample of of about one-third of all tetrads will be the minimum target.)   Fuller details are given later, but essentially each TTV involves surveying (on foot, or on bicycle with frequent stops) the tetrads, 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 adult birds are also being recorded for scarcer species in summers 2006-07, and counts of all species will be needed for the national atlas(November 2007 onwards for winter coverage).  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 five 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 winter 2007/08 and summer 2008 onwards will be provided once an observer has been allocated tetrads to cover.


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.


Signing up as a volunteer


For winter coverage (starting November 2007) and the next breeding season (starting April 2008), there’s still plenty of time to sign up - and you can now go online (Bird Atlas 2007-2011) to do this.  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 below for details of tetrads already allocated, and an indication of priority tetrads.) Alternatively, if you'd like further information, or have records to contribute from summer 2007, please click here (see also files below).  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.


Tetrad allocations for the coming seasons - current status


The maps below show the tetrads which have already been requested by and allocated to specific observers for timed coverage (TTVs) in the coming breeding seasons (2008-2011).  (See also winter allocations.)  These tetrads will not necessarily be covered in the next season, and many more still need to be allocated. Updated 6 Nov 2007. 


Suggested priority tetrads (breeding season 2008-2011)
Based on coverage achieved in 2007-08, priorities for timed (TTV) coverage in the remaining breeding seasons (2008-11) have provisionally been identified as follows:
Priority 1:  Full tetrads which have not yet had at least 2 hours of timed coverage in 2006-07, or for which their main coverage was postponed.  (The latter group involves coastal 10-km squares having 8 or fewer full tetrads, for which the National atlas requires coverage of all tetrads during 2008-11.)  A 'sub-priority' for National atlas purposes will be those tetrads that received coverage in the 1988-91 atlas.  (These will help assess changes in distribution over the last 20 years, and are shown as squares on the Priority 1 map, if not covered in 2006-07, or on the Priority 2 map if they were covered in 2006-07.)
Priority 2:  Full tetrads that had 2+ hours coverage in 2006-07, but for which further coverage during the National atlas period (2008-11) will help assess changes since 1988-91, when these tetrads were also covered.
Priority 3:  Partial tetrads which had no coverage, or < 1 hr of coverage, in 2006-07; either coastal (midpoint below HWM) or border 'fragments' (with <15% of the area in Co Waterford).  These partial tetrads will require at least 1 hour of timed coverage for the Waterford atlas, but will probably not contribute timed coverage to the National atlas (data will be submitted to latter as Roving Records).
Not mapped:  Tetrads which received basic coverage (2 hours for full tetrads, 1 hour for partial tetrads) in 2006-07, and which were not covered in 1988-91.  These are not a priority for the National atlas either, but if time allows as many as possible of these tetrads will be re-surveyed during 2008-11.
Some of the tetrads mapped under priorities 1 & 3 may have been covered in 2007 but data may not yet have been collated, thus some changes to the priority maps are possible.  Updated 8 Nov 2007.




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

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