Background to the BTO projects
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is a charitable status organisation that is highly regarded for their prowess in scientific study. They offer a set of interesting bird recording surveys that suit both individuals and community groups. BTO surveys look to fill knowledge gaps in our understanding of bird population health with reliable data gathered from well set out surveys undertaken by committed volunteers.
How the BTO projects work
BTO have surveys that suit both individuals and that can accommodate community groups. The BTO have BirdTrack online recording site for anyone with an interest in submitting ad hoc sightings. All that is needed is for the volunteer to register with the service and start recording their sightings.
How BTO involve communities
Other projects such as BTO Wetland Birds WeBS survey lends itself well to more traditional community participation. A community group could ‘adopt’ a water body (stretch of river, pond, loch, canal etc) and either monitor it together as a group, or individually on a rota basis. Communities can also participate in monitoring their local birds of prey by engaging with a local Raptor Study Group.
A Community Group wishing to engage with a particular survey, it might be possible for them either to attend a relevant training course or, potentially, for BTO to run bespoke training. The first port of call for training in many regions is the BTO Regional Representative, who would provide guidance on surveys and survey squares available. BTO’s partners, the Scottish Ornithology Club could also provide local support, for example if the Community Group wished to become involved in raptor monitoring.
For many people, their ‘community’ is formed around their hobby or cause. BTO run the What’s Up? upland birds survey, which primarily supports communities of hillwalkers and those who live and work in upland areas. For hillwalkers engaging with the What’s Up? project BTO have ID guides and special survey recording booklets.