Hertfordshire Natural History Society ~ Making the most of your nature records in Herfordshire
Hertfordshire Natural History Society  
Surveys and projects  

Herts Bird Club has a wide ranging programme of birding activities, check out what is on offer below and get involved. Everyone can take part.

Hertfordshire House Martin Survey 2015

The recent Birds of Hertfordshire states: “The House Martin is still a widespread breeding species but the 2008-12 atlas results suggest a significant decrease in numbers and distribution with many former colonies now abandoned”. Herts Bird Club carried out a local survey in 2015, the results are published in the Herts Bird Report 2015

​Three Counties - Corn Bunting Survey 2014

This survey has finished, a brief summary of the results for Hertfordshire can be found here

BTO National Peregrine Falcon Survey

BTO Peregrine Falcon survey 2014 is now ended, we are still interested in ad-hoc records submitted to this website or BirdTrack

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

The Breeding Bird Survey is easy and interesting to do.The BBS is the main source of population trend information about the UK’s widespread breeding birds – an important indicator of the health of the countryside. The survey is organised nationally by the BTO in conjunction with RSPB and JNCC. Hertfordshire is well represented with over 70 volunteers participating covering at least 81 plots in 2012. The Hertfordshire results are published every year in the Herts Bird Report.

We would like more volunteers - taking part is easy – just visit a local square twice during the breeding season, and record all birds you see or hear using standard methods. If you would like to find out more or take on a BBS square check the BBS website or contact . The list of available survey squares can be found on the Hertfordshire BTO Regional News website.

Because of the high level of coverage in Hertfordshire, we are already able to monitor 30 species locally. With your support to incease the coverage, we could do more.


Wetlands Bird Survey (WeBS)

A drake Pochard asleep.If you are interested in wildfowl, this one is for you. Organised nationally by the BTO, in conjunction with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, RSPB and JNCC, Herts birders have been participating for many years building up a clear picture of population changes over time. Wildfowl are counted at the major wetland sites once a month throughout the year.
Hertfordshire WeBS results are now published in full on our website, for the years 20152014, 2013, 2012, 20112010 & 2009 
Results for previous years were published in the Herts Bird Report each year .
Check the WeBS website for more information. We are looking for more volunteers to help with the surveys, particularly at Tring Reservoirs, and contact  (Lee Valley sites) or if you would like to take part.

​Garden BirdWatch

Keep a note of the birds seen in your garden. Garden BirdWatch organised by the British Trust for Ornithology monitors the changing fortunes of birds and other garden wildlife through its network of 'citizen scientists'. Observations collected by Garden BirdWatchers are analysed by BTO researchers and published in leading journals. BTO Garden BirdWatchers have charted the decline of the House Sparrow, the rise of the Woodpigeon, have discovered that urban birds get up later than their rural counterparts and have alerted conservationists to the impact of an emerging disease in Greenfinches. You can take part - find out more about the project here


Herts Bird Club surveys

The Bird Club supports all national surveys but in addition run some of our own. Results are published in the yearly Herts Bird Report.

Recent surveys include:

Hertfordshire Rookery Census 2015, we have a good history of monitoring numbers for breeding Rooks through spring counts of nests at rookeries. Previous complete surveys were carried out in 1960-61, 1971, 1975 and 1993. The Herts Bird Club is running a Rookery census during the 2015 breeding season. Results of the survey will be published in the 2015 Herts Bird Report.

  • Green Sandpiper Survey, photo Barry trevis2014 Corn Bunting Survey, a brief summary of the results for Hertfordshire can be found here.
  • 2012 Nightingale survey
  • 2009 Hobby survey
  • 2007 Little Ringed and Ringed Plover and other gravel pit breeding waders in Hertfordshire
  • 2006/7 Wintering Green Sandpipers
  • 2006 Breeding Sand Martin survey
  • 2005 Tawny Owl survey
  • 2005 Grey Partridge survey
  • 2004 Swallow feeding survey

We hope to upload more details later as resources permit.


Nest Record Scheme

Juvenile Song Thrushes ready to leave the nest.The Nest Record Scheme is one of the longest running monitoring programmes of the BTO. Hertfordshire birders take part and we want to encourage more of you to submit nest records. First started in 1939, the scheme has collected well over 1.25 million records during its 70 years of existence. Although often receiving a lower profile than other national monitoring schemes, nest record data have been vital in diagnosing the causes of declines of some species and it was nest record data that were first used to demonstrate the shift to earlier nesting by many species linked to the recent warm springs. Nest recording is one of the simplest BTO projects to take part in, so it is accessible to everyone. It provides an ideal opportunity for you to participate in the conservation of Britain’s birds. So, whether you can monitor a single garden nestbox or are carrying out a larger study, please submit your records to BTO. The 2008 Herts Bird Report has the latest summary of nest records in Herts.


Bird ringing

A Firecrest ringed at Hilfield Park Reservoir, photo by Tony Blake.Nationally the ringing scheme is overseen by the BTO. There are five active ringing groups operating in Hertfordshire:

In 2006 over 14000 birds were ringed in the county. Details are published yearly in the Hertfordshire Bird Report. If you would like to take part or train as a ringer, please contact the BTO.


Projects on Biodiversity Action Plan species - Tree Sparrows

​Herts Bird Club leads the action Tree Sparrows to protect their breeding sites in the county.

The last remaining Tree Sparrow breeding colony in Hertfordshire nests in boxes in the Tyttenhanger area. The main breeding site is on private land and the nest boxes are monitored closely by Herts Bird Club members (see photo below).

​Herts Bird Club provides supplementary feeding for the birds all year round at two sites. There is public access to the feeder at Tyttenhanger Farm, it is located in an enclosure to the east of Lawson's builders merchants yard. You can get good views of the Tree Sparrows in the hedge and on the feeder from the public footpath and field margin.
After several difficult years this strategy seems to be paying off and the numbers of birds has stabilised.
Tree Sparrow nest boxesAll the Tree Sparrow pulli are ringed every year and some have been fitted with electronic monitoring tags. You can see the PIT tag fitted to the sparrow's leg in the photo (taken by Clive Harding). So we are starting to understand more about these lovely birds and their needs.
Reports from the Tree Sparrow Project Team are available for 2010 and  2009 and a paper was published in July 2014 the Hertfordshire Bird Report 2012.


Long term study of Great Spotted Woodpeckers in four Hertfordshire woodlands

More details to be provided in due course.


Heartwood Forest – monitoring the changes in populations of birds and other wildlife

The Woodland Trust started planting trees to form the new Heartwood Forest at Sandridge in November 2009, see www.woodlandtrust.co.uk/heartwood. Herts Natural History Society and the Woodland Trust have teamed up to monitor the planted saplings and the changes in wildlife diversity and distribution as the woodland develops over the long term. Details of all the monitoring schemes and the results are on our HNHS website. Monitoring now includes, trees, hedgerows, birds, butterflies, bats and small mammals, flora, lichens, earthworms, some other invertebrates and fungi. Ken Smith has carried out a breeding bird survey of the whole area every spring since 2009, including both the existing woodland and arable farmland. The survey will be repeated in future years to record the changes in bird life as the woodland develops. Follow the link to see his 2009 report 'A breeding bird survey of land at Sandridgebury' .

Bird surveys and projects in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Rookery Census 2015

House Martin Survey 2015 

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)

Garden BirdWatch

Herts Bird Club surveys

Nest recording


Tree Sparrows


Heartwood Forest at Sandridge