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.

Please read BTO information with regard to COVID-19 - BTO and COVID-19

BTO National Woodcock Survey

This national survey is ongoing.

Woodcock at Hitchin (c) Anne Songhurst

The 2023 survey continues on some selected squares. For Hertfordshire there are two available priority squares, TL3223 east of Bennington and TL3509 west of Hoddesdon. If you are interested in these squares and to see what other lower squares are available in Hertfordshire, please visit the BTO website www.bto.org/woodcock and register with the BTO. 

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS)

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

The BBS (together with the WBBS) 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 around 90 volunteers participating in either the BBS or the WBBS or both. Nearly 100 BBS squares and five WBBS plots were surveyed in 2023. The list of vacant plots for the BBS/WBBS is shown below. The Hertfordshire results are published every year in the Hertfordshire 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 Martin Ketcher.

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


2024 BBS vacant squares

SP9513 Albury Nowers




E of Great Gaddesden (access?)


NE of Bedmond


NW of St Albans








N of Rushden


Goff's Oak




Chapmore End


Throcking (access?)


Great Munden




N of Nasty


Waltham Cross



TL3828 S of Hare Street
TL3900 Waltham Abbey
TL4122 Wellpond Green
TL4210 E of Roydon
TL4220 N of Much Hadham
TL4410 Harlow
TL4914 Lower Sheering
TQ0495 Chorleywood



2024 WBBS vacant 'squares'



TL3701 Waltham Abbey





Hertfordshire Mute Swan Breeding Survey 2022

This local survey is complete.

The 2022 Mute Swan Breeding Survey has now finished, with records of breeding activity received from 44 sites - these can be found on the interactive map here which also includes locations of 5 further sites just outside the county boundary.  This count is down compared with the previous survey in 2002 which produced 62 breeding pairs.  

A number of the nesting sites do not have a known outcome - if you are aware of cygnets hatching and how many survived, or indeed of any nests not on the map, please contact Graham Knight with details here

Colour-ring sightings: Many Mute Swans in Hertfordshire are colour-ringed, and we continue to welcome any details of ring numbers with your observations. Whether breeding or not, colour-ring sightings should also be sent to Mike Reed, who will also provide a full history of the bird on request – contact details here

Injured or distressed Mute Swans: any birds that are injured or in any sort of distress should be reported to Swan Rescue Hertfordshire – contact details here

Hertfordshire Rookeries 2021

This local survey is complete.

Rookeries have been surveyed in Hertfordshire for many years. In 2021 the Bird Club received records of 5,531 nests from 277 rookeries. See how this compares to previous Herts Rookery surveys below.

A new interactive map was produced to show the sites and nest counts, as well as known sites not checked, and sites previously used but found to be abandoned.

Year of Survey Total Number of nest counted Total Number of rookeries counted Mean Rookery size (number of nests)
1960-61 15,739 521 30
1971 10,708 402 27
1975 8,685 375 23
1993 5,435 220 25
2015 3,343* 192 17
2021 5,531 277 20

*survey coverage not complete

A full write-up of the survey can be found in the Hertfordshire Bird Report 2021



National Turtle Dove Survey 2021

This national survey is complete.

Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows 2021

This national survey is complete.

Herts Urban Gull Survey 2021 - (JNCC Seabird Count 2015-2021)

This national survey is complete.

Heronries Census

This national survey is ongoing.

The BTO's Heronries Census has gathered nest counts annually since 1928 at an increasing proportion of the UK's heronries. The aim is to count as many heronries as possible each year and to ensure that newly established sites are quickly discovered and brought into the programme of annual counts.

The main species covered is Grey Heron, but Little Egret is fully included, as are rarer species of colonial water birds such as Cattle Egrets (which nested in the UK for the first time in 2008). Nest counts of Cormorants are also collected, especially where they are nesting alongside herons. Data are shared with county recorders and for rare species with the Rare Breeding Birds Panel.

In the Herts BTO region (which includes the Essex side of the Lea Valley), the known heronries are: -

Amwell NR, Great Hardmead Lake

Nether Hall GPs

Holyfield Lake, Lea Valley CP

Cheshunt GP, Bowyers Water

Waltham Abbey Woods, Perme North

Brocket Park, Lemsford

Stanborough Lakes, Welwyn Garden City

Verulamium Park, St Albans

Stockers Lake, Rickmansworth

Marsworth & Tringford Reservoirs, Tring

Wilstone Reservoir, Tring

Frogmore Lakes nr Radlett

Tyttenhanger GPs

Aldenham CP, Elstree

Additionally, former/existing sites at Luton Hoo Park (Beds) and Bourne End (Berkhamsted) are on the Herts BTO region list of sites but have no recent data. I would be grateful if someone would like to check these locations for the presence of breeding Herons, and potentially take on counting any active colony if present.

If anyone is aware of Grey Herons, Little Egrets or Cormorants breeding at a site not listed above, or would like to get involved with the Heronries Census, please contact Murray Orchard at murray.orchard@live.co.uk


English Farm Woodland Bird Survey 2019 (BTO)

This national survey is complete.

Wetlands Bird Survey (WeBS)

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

If you are interested in wildfowl, this one is for you. Organised nationally by the BTO, in conjunction with the 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 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 201920182017, 2016, 201520142013, 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, so please contact Cath Patrick (Lee Valley sites). For sites excluding the Lee Valley the BTO is recruiting for a new organiser. Anyone interested should visit WeBS Local Organiser for more information.

Bird Ringing

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

Nationally the ringing scheme is overseen by the BTO. There are three active ringing groups operating in Hertfordshire:

In 2015 over 19000 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.

Nest Record Scheme

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

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 Hertfordshire Bird Report has the latest summary of nest records in Herts.

Garden BirdWatch

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

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.

Projects on Biodiversity Action Plan species - Tree Sparrows

This local survey is ongoing.

The 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.

All 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. 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.