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Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  Andrew Oldacre

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Bird Atlas 2007 - 2011

The Bird Atlas Project organised jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology, The Scottish Ornithologists Club and Bird Watch Ireland is a massive undertaking aimed at mapping the abundance and distribution of all species occurring in the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic. Atlases provide vital information for bird conservation in the future and take place approximately every 20 years. The last one in the late 1980’s highlighted the widespread range contraction of farmland birds, which led to detailed research into the causes. Will the new survey highlight the plight of another group of birds? The first 2 year’s records have already been completed, both for the winter period (November – February) and the breeding season (April – July). Those records taken from 2007 – 2009 have highlighted the range expansion of several species including Common Buzzard, Common Raven and Common Stonechat while migrant breeding species such as spotted flycatcher and wood warbler have contracted. Two methods are used to make records. Timed visits of one or two hours are made to 2km X 2km Ordinance Survey grid squares (called tetrads) and further records are made on a roving or opportunist basis and these can be made at any time during the winter or breeding periods.

In North Argyll which includes the Isle of Mull, Iona, Morvern, Coll and Tiree 113 (55% of the minimum) tetrads have been surveyed during the 2 winter periods by a dedicated band of volounteers and approximately 158 species have been recorded. During the 2 breeding seasons approximately 90 tetrads have been covered and approximately 191 species were seen. These records were augmented by a huge number of roving records which were made by both residents and visitors to the area and I am most grateful to all those who gave their time to the project. The breeding seasons have seen five new species added to the Mull list – nuthatch, white-billed Diver, ortolan bunting, rose-coloured starling and quail, however some of these records are still being scrutinised. To date approximately 22600 records have been received from 128 observers. This is a massive achievement and includes timed tetrad visits and roving records, but unfortunately only a relatively small number of these have been made by residents of Mull

The fourth period of winter recording for 2010-11 is fast approaching and I am very keen to attract additional observers to cover tetrads which have so far not been surveyed especially in the southern half of the island and yet more roving records. Hopefully those volunteers who have already taken part will be able to do more recording. Any input from mainland members of the Bird Club and anyone visiting the area in either of the recording periods (winter or breeding) would be most welcome. Further details can be obtained from myself including instructions and recording forms on 01444 247439 or online at where you can register to submit your records electronically. Alternatively you may contact the Scottish Organiser Bob Swann by e-mail.

Shaun McCullagh
BTO Regional Organiser for Bird Atlas for Isle of Mull & Morvern

Shaun McCullagh - BTO Regional Organiser  Andrew Oldacre


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