Ray Colliers Wildlife in the North – British Trust for Ornithology

Wood MouseWith so much interest in garden birds these days, it is intriguing   to see where you can get any information on them.  One source is obviously the various books on the subject.  The number of such books these days is remarkable but shows  just how commercial  this has become.  It is not only the feeding but also the nestboxes, tree and shrub planting etc.  It is not only confined to birds now but also embraces butterflies and moths , mammals and even amphibians.  As for the birds, the main  source of information is from one of the two country’s leading bird organisations, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).  They produce a very wide range of outlets for such information from free leaflets to the variety of excellent books and booklets they sell.  Membership also has the advantage of their regular magazine and newsletters on a very wide range of subjects.

I have certainly made use of their many publications including the free ones on such thorny issues as cats in gardens and what to do if you are worried about sparrowhawks.   Every year I have to refurbish the series of nestboxes in the garden or replace some of them.  The  “Bible” for this is from the BTO and is the well thumbed “The BTO Nestbox Guide” by Chris du Feu.  There is just nothing to surpass this publication, first published in 2003.     The BTO has many long term surveys such as the famous bird atlases with the latest one due out next year.  This is the recognised “Bible” for any bird person of whatever experience or age and will be another milestone.   The atlas is only one of  many long term surveys the BTO has and is undertaking and another is the well known Garden BirdWatch.  This is a self supporting, by subscription, aspect of the BTO and has its own quarterly  newsletter called Bird Table.  The latest one  arrived on my  desk last week and, as usual, is packed with interesting  information.    As it is all about garden birds it can relate to so very many people that see garden birds as a daily commitment  and one that gives them enormous pleasure and satisfaction.

One other aspect of the these BTO’s surveys in gardens  has been the recording of other groups such as dragonflies, butterflies, wood mice and toads.  There are  a few pages on this aspect in the latest Bird Table magazine.  One good example is that of toads and the magazine shows a graph where the movement of toads is indicated,  such as when they are  moving to ponds in gardens to breed.  Who would ever have thought that an organisation such as the BTO would ever cover toads.  All the  relevant information is passed to  to those organisations that specialise  in  such groups and it is   proving an invaluable aid to the conservation of the many species.   As for the birds in gardens the newsletter covers a number of articles such as on what to look at in  the garden for this quarter,  a regular feature is “One to watch” and this  time it is   the bullfinch.   There is also the regular “From your gardens” where people  write in about their experiences  such as pheasants, sunbathing birds, red kites and even weasels.  The arrival of migrants shows which of  the  species are  regular migrants and visit gardens. .  Blackbirds, bramblings  and chaffinches are included and it just fascinating.  For more information on the BTO and to join, and why not, go onto their website here.