Graham White speaking at the 2017 Bird conference

An audience of more than a hundred enjoyed the 2017 Herts Bird Club / British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) conference at the offices of Affinity Water, Hatfield on Saturday 11 March.

A packed programme included a presentation by Graham White on competition between Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls for nesting rafts in the Lea Valley and the potential for coexistence and conservation-friendly solutions. Ken Smith and Barry Trevis described the programme of ringing and tracking that has enabled wintering Green Sandpipers to be tracked from the Lemsford Springs reserve to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.

The conference additionally heard from Sarah Harris of the BTO about different survey techniques used to monitor breeding birds. She revealed that in Hertfordshire,  between 1994 and 2015, there were 34 species that underwent a significant increase in numbers and eight that declined. For example, a 78 per cent increase in Whitethroats being recorded and a 51 per cent decrease in Starlings.

The highlights covered in a review of Hertfordshire bird records for 2016 by Graham Knight included two 'firsts' for the county: Bonaparte’s Gull and Franklin’s Gull. Other notable sightings had included Purple Heron,  Grey Phalarope and Little Auk, plus a Storm Petrel that had been found dead.

Those attending also enjoyed a bird identification quiz, photo competition and the traditional raffle. Our warm thanks go to Affinity Water for, again, hosting this popular event.