I hope that wherever you are in Europe you are enjoying the arrival of spring, and the return of migrant birds from warmer climes. I'm still waiting here in northern England, eagerly anticipating the first Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita and Sand Martins Riparia riparia with the promise of better days ahead that they bring.
Last I wrote, we were awaiting the publication of the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2, the culmination of ten year's work across the EBCC network. I hope many of you were able to join the online launch event in December to celebrate this achievement, and indeed I hope many of you have been able to get hold of the book itself. I'm pleased to report interest has been high, and sales have exceeded expectations; the book is now on its third print run. The atlas team is still hard at work, developing research plans and working towards the launch of an online map resource towards the end of 2021.
As you can see from this newsletter we are busy on many fronts in addition to the atlas. Good communication is key to the success of EBCC projects, and with that in mind I would like to highlight two of the items in this newsletter. While the EBCC board regrets not being able to meet in person due to the current restrictions on travel, online meetings offer some advantages and for the second year in a row we will be holding our Annual General Meeting by videoconference, enabling much greater attendance. In addition, this year's AGM will be enriched by three presentations from across the EBCC network, and will be open to all to attend, not just EBCC delegates.
Secondly, EBCC conferences are wonderful events where we come together as a community to meet old friends, make new ones, to learn and inspire. Plans for our next conference in Switzerland are developing fast, and the conference website is now open – details below. We hope to see you there, in happier and safer times!
Take care, stay safe
Bird Numbers 2022: Conference website launched
The next EBCC conference, Bird Numbers 2022: Beyond the Atlas: Challenges and Opportunities, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, from 4 to 8 April 2022. With five plenary speakers, oral and poster presentations, plus workshops, the conference will cover a wide range of topics. Visit the conference website at ebcc2022.ch for more information.
Annual General Meeting
We are happy to invite you to attend the EBCC Annual general Meeting at 19.00hrs (CET) on 20 April, to be held via Microsoft Teams.The meeting will include updates on the work of the EBCC, a report from our treasurer and audit committee, and the election of new delegates.As well as the normal content of the AGM, this year we have invited three speakers to give short talks about the surveying and atlasing work within their countries: I am delighted to announce that Karen Aghababyan (Armenia), Viesturs Kerus (Latvia), Dimitrije Radisic (Serbia) will give these presentations. We expect the meeting to take 90 minutes.
Population changes of common European birds published
In March, the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme network published a data paper on long-term population changes of common European breeding birds in Scientific Data. The paper brings an overview of the methods that PECBMS uses for fieldwork and calculation of the relative population size change estimates of 170 common birds in 28 European countries. We also provide a brief overview of data´ use in research, conservation and policy. Alongside the paper, we published and made publicly available database containing supra-national indices, national species indices and a detailed description of national monitoring schemes. We hope that public availability of datasets and methods will encourage studies using this unique dataset based on decades of bird monitoring by thousands of volunteer fieldworkers.
Bird Census News 33/1-2
A new issue of BCN has been published featuring interesting monitoring articles. It also sees the launch of two new article series; interviews of notable figures in the EBCC network and short overviews of the online feedback tools used by national monitoring schemes. Please send feedback on what you like – or don't like – about these new features to the editor-in-chief (firstname.lastname@example.org). We want to encourage all recipients of this bulletin to consider submitting short articles about your monitoring work to BCN!
During the recent months, we have been delighted to welcome the following persons as EBCC delegates: Yann Kolbeinsson and Gunnar Thor Halgrimsson, both Iceland, Carlos Godinho, Portugal and John Atle Kålås, Norway. It is great to see that we are slowly but continuously filling the empty places in our network of country delegates. There are now 41 countries that have two delegates and six countries with one delegate (Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lichtenstein, Portugal and Serbia). The updated delegate list is now available here.
The regular report summarises the activities of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme between July and December 2020. The project is supported by the EC tender called "Technical and scientific support in relation to the delivery and development of wild bird indicators for the EU ". We are proceeding with the development of several online tools and programs that aim to be user-friendly and save time for both the national and pan-European scheme coordinators. The year 2020 was dedicated to the deep dataset revision, which is nearly finished. The report also provides an overview of research based on the PECBMS data.
Work on the European Breeding Bird Atlas EBBA2 in 2020 had one target: the publication of the book by EBCC and Lynx Edicions in December. Despite the difficult circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the deadline could be kept and the book launched on 3 December 2020. The report summarises the year busy with the finalisation of the publication and its promotion, including the launch event and the workshop.
Compilation on breeding bird atlases of Latvia
Latvian Ornithological Society has published a book Latvian Breeding Bird Atlases 1980-2017. Abundance, distribution and population trends of birds. Data for two national and two European breeding bird atlases have been collected in Latvia, but only the results of the first one had been published in 1989. In the new book, the results of all four projects have been compiled. Therefore, the changes in the distribution of 223 bird species from 1980 until 2017 have been documented. Though the book is mainly in Latvian, it contains extensive English summaries of all main parts. The book is available in the NHBS bookstore.
Thanks to the work of countless volunteers involved in eight monitoring surveys as the Breeding Bird Survey and Common Birds Census, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has published the BirdTrends 2020 report. For each of 121 species, users can quickly access the latest information on trends in population size, breeding performance and survival rates. In good news, Great Spotted Woodpecker has shown the largest increase of any of the species covered, increasing by 387% in the last 50 years. An increase of the Song Thrush of 15% means the species is a candidate for removal from the highest category of conservation concern, the Red List. A species potentially moving on to the Red List is Greenfinch. We have lost over 1 million of our Greenfinches in the last 15 years, largely due to the infectious disease trichomonosis.
Population trends of common breeding birds in Germany 1990–2018
In the recent paper, Johannes Kamp and his colleagues analysed data from the German Common Bird Monitoring for 1990–2018 and summarised species' trends by ecological trait groups. For instance, among the 93 common breeding birds, they found consistent declines in ground-nesting birds, granivorous and invertebrate-feeding birds. Long-distance migrants showed more negative trends than short-distance migrants and residents. The authors conclude suggestions for the conservation policies in Germany that aim to halt the worrying declines in ground-nesting, often insectivorous, farmland birds and consider species adaptation to environmental and climate change in better protected area connectivity management.
Forest Europe informs on the state of forests by presenting the PECBMS indicator
The State of Europe's Forests 2020 report published in December by Forest Europe provides comprehensive information on the status and trends in forests and forestry in the continent, based on the pan-European criteria for sustainable forest management. For the first time, the report also contains an overview of forests and forestry in individual countries. PECBMS delivered the data on 34 common forest bird species in the time period 1980–2017. The key findings show that the common forest bird index has been relatively stable during the last 37 years.
A new Latvian breeding and wintering bird atlas has started
The atlas will cover five years (2020–2024) and 2787 5x5 km squares. In addition to the traditional atlas surveys, we also focus on data collection through mobile app Dabasdati.lv and submission of 5-minute audio recordings (as citizen science) and recordings from remote places made with AudioMoth recorders to ensure better coverage. So far, people have sent more than 300 recordings. All data are stored in Dabasdati.lv portal and can be accessed for input and statistics through a specific atlas page.
A study finds a high level of accordance between PECBMS trends and those from systematic ringing at a spring migration bottleneck site
A paper published in Ecology and Evolution in December 2020 analysed data from long-term systematic ringing at the island of Ponza in the central Mediterranean and compared the trends of 30 migrant species with those obtained by generic breeding monitoring schemes contributing to PECBMS. The comparison shows that the trends are in high accordance and suggests a potential for further use of systematic ringing data in parallel to standardised bird monitoring data. Further development of bird monitoring in eastern parts of the species' range would also improve such comparisons' quality.
Deeper insight into population trends and demography at a large spatial scale helps to target conservation actions
Using the data from PECBMS schemes and ringing data from Constant Effort Site (CES), Catriona Morrison et al. explored covariation in population trends and survival and productivity of 80 species. They found that there were good sites and bad sites for population trends and productivity consistently for migrants and residents, but such consistency was not found for survival. The paper, which can help target the conservation action in Europe, was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and a blog by the leading author puts the study into a wider context.