Citizen Science Surveys

Following on from our five year long Raptor Nest Box Project exploring the effects of nest boxes on Kestrel populations, this spring we’ve launched a new project, Kestrel Count 2. This project aims to determine the population sizes of Buzzards, Kestrels and Red Kites across all of south eastern England. The study area is 18,700km2 and is eight times larger than the previous study. Extending this work across such a large area requires more manpower than we have available and so, over the last three months, we have recruited volunteers. Appeals to our ever-willing membership and on social media have all resulted in us obtaining more than 40 offers of help from raptor enthusiasts and general birders.

The nature of the project, and the need for the data to be recorded in a certain way, means that all volunteers have needed some training. Sessions were held over two weekends at the end of February and, to date, around 75% of all volunteers have now received training and are out performing surveys.

In performing the surveys, each volunteer is required to walk along predetermined routes (8-12km long) and record a number of pieces of data for every raptor they see, including:

By pooling this data by county and region we can then generate estimates of density for each of the three species. This also enables assessment of population size which can then be used to answer some of the questions relating to the growth or decline of the populations of these species.

Unfortunately, we only have funding for 16 sets of equipment for our volunteers, meaning that they have to share. We are looking for kind sponsors who would like to support this project as with additional equipment, volunteers will be able to undertake surveys concurrently, meaning that we cover a greater area, with more data generated and, as a result, produce better estimates. The costs of our equipment are as follows:

If you would like to support this project and our UK conservation and research work, you can become a supporter or donate today.

More surveys are planned between September and December 2017. If you consider yourself to be a capable ‘birder’ and would like more information about getting involved, please contact matt@hawkconservancy.org.

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