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Nature Recovery Network Bird Surveys



Wood Pigeon.
Portrait by Kerry Fisher


Sally Taylor will be looking at the data and, Vignesh, our young ecologist friend will come up with some interesting graphs etc. Don and Judy Reid have offered to try being the encouragers and rallyers. We’ve been a bit under-resourced in this department until now and, as a result, some of the novice garden surveyors now need encouraging to return to the task… So, Don and Judy (or Catriona) might ask you, once in a while, for a few lines on your patch or anything of interest that you might like to share with the community. They will also be the ones to communicate with when you have done a survey and they might sometimes do a gentle chivvy… Chris Baker has written a wonderful 200 words on why he does the garden bird survey, which we are about to use to re-inspire people to take it up again for the spring:


What is our aim in doing this?


  • Use the data gathered to create a baseline from which to set targets and monitor recovery of our local habitats and wildlife over time.
  • Build a local database, based on scientific principles, that is accessible to the local community and can be used by them to defend, protect and enhance our local wildlife.
  • Encourage learning in a broad section of the local community as a means of increasing concern and protection of our local wildlife on the premise that you can only value what you know.
  • Collate, store, analyse and disseminate data to create a local professional resource that can be used in discussion of development and planning. 
  • Share our data widely for research to enhance the protection and recovery of nature. The data will be open source and free for anyone to use.

How are we doing it?

One of the greatest challenges in gathering data, is collecting it in a format that is most useful to most people. We have discovered over the last nine months that many NGOs have developed their own formats. Some (eg BTO) even have a different format for entering data for their Garden Survey and Bird Track.

In order to future-proof our data, and make it accessible to as wide an audience as possible, including future users, we have developed a form that is accessible on a smartphone and desktop using data standards followed by the Global Biodiversity Facility (GBIF). This will allow us to upload it to BTO, for example, but also to the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC), and other data-gatherers.

A key principle of NRN surveys is that they should be easily accessible by all members of the community. We want everyone to be able to take part. If you can use the NRN bird survey form for collecting the data, it will save us hugely on admin. time, but please let us know if you need to submit your observations in another form. 

If you are using the phone app. you can add all your sightings at one GPS location by clicking ‘add’ rather than re-writing observer name etc. for each entry. This adds a bit of extra time at the backend, so it would be useful to have some feedback as to whether this is useful function or whether its as easy to complete the whole form for each sighting.