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

National Turtle Dove Survey 2021

This national survey is planned.

This year a national survey is being conducted by the RSPB in conjunction with the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Natural England and BTO. A sample of 1km squares have been selected for survey in those counties that still have Turtle Doves, proportionate to the status of the species in those counties. Sadly, Hertfordshire is no longer one of the core counties and only six squares have been selected. These are already being covered by survey volunteers. However, people can help the survey by keeping a special look-out for Turtle Doves during this year and reporting any sightings to BirdTrack or the Herts Bird Club website. Please give accurate location details (preferable a six-figure grid reference) and an indication of any breeding activity i.e. whether a singing male, pair in suitable habitat, display etc.

Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows 2021

This national survey is planned.

A repeat of this survey, last performed in 2002, was planned for last year but cancelled due to the Corona virus.  However, Natural England have confirmed the funding for this BTO/RSPB survey to be conducted in 2021. Thank you if you had already signed up for the survey. The purpose is to assess existing and new wet grassland and other breeding wader habitats for birds such as Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe. It will involve up to four visits from mid-April to the end of June within allocated sites. Surveyors will need to be able to identify common waders by sight and sound and be familiar with display and territorial behaviour.

Visits should be at least a week apart and be made between dawn and midday - avoiding cold, wet or windy weather. A map will be provided showing the boundary of your site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For full information and the complete list of sites see the BTO website: -


It’s not too late to sign up!

In Herts there are 24 sites that have still not been allocated to surveyors. Those that are on wetlands within river valleys in the county are listed here. The letters/numbers are the BTO codes for each site.

East Herts (11 sites)

Just south of Brent Pelham (B_2596)

Wateringplace Green, South-west of Buntingford (3488)

Twyford Lock, Bishops Stortford (3469)

Thorley Wash, Bishops Stortford (3468)

Hallingbury/Sawbridgeworth Marshes (3467)

Roydon (3465)

Broxbourne (3448)

Hertford to Essendon (3456 A and B)

Stort Navigation (3466 A and B)


West and South-west Herts (9 sites)

Wall Hall, Watford (3405)

Hunton Bridge, Watford, Gade (3417)

Hampton Hall Farm, Colne (3403)

Maple Cross (3401)

Croxley Gravel Pits, Rickmansworth area (3415)

Chess Valley, Rickmansworth area (3410)

Hemel Hempstead to Kings Langley (3419 A and B)

Bulbourne Quarry, Tring (0636)


In addition to the 20 sites above there are four Lapwing Plots still unallocated.

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

This national survey is ongoing.


2021 is the final year of the national census of urban nesting Gulls, which is part of the 4th UK seabird census (called the Seabird Count) which has been running since 2015. Full details of the Seabird Count can be found at Seabird Censuses | JNCC - Adviser to Government on Nature Conservation and https://jncc.gov.uk/news/seabirds-count/  It is known that these Gulls (Herring and Lesser Black-backed) nest on buildings in several areas of the county including Watford, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Borehamwood, but there has been expansion into other areas over recent years including the Lea Valley.

Coverage for this survey is now 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


Long-eared Owls

This national survey is ongoing.

The BTO are keen to encourage birdwatchers to go out and listen for Long-eared Owls, one of our most poorly known breeding species. The Rare Breeding Bird Panel report for 2018 was able to record details for just 227-295 confirmed breeding pairs for the UK, with none in Herts, but this is almost certainly a significant underestimate. Now is a good time to go out and listen for the species in areas of suitable habitat. Please see  https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/project-owl/learn-about-owls/long-eared-owl for information on the species. If you do have the good fortune to locate a Long-eared Owl, please contact the Herts Bird Recorder in the first instance birdrecorder@hnhs.org and refrain from putting out news more widely, as this species is easily disturbed. 


English Farm Woodland Bird Survey 2019 (BTO)

This national survey is complete.

English Winter Bird Survey

This national survey is complete.

This survey finished in March 2019. It was based on existing BBS squares especially those within farmland. The online data entry was via BBS Online. The BTO are seeking funding to make this an ongoing, regular survey.

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 90 volunteers participating in either the BBS or the WBBS or both, covering at least 110 BBS and 6 WBBS plots in 2021. 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.


2021 BBS vacant squares




E of Great Gaddesden


Cheverells Green






Goff’s Oak






Chapmore End


Nr Therfield


N of Nasty


Waltham Cross




S Ware


Nr Buntingford


S of Hare Street


Waltham Abbey


E of Roydon


Stocking Pelham



2021 WBBS vacant 'squares'








Waltham Abbey





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 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 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) or Jim Terry if you would like to take part.

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.

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.

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.

Hertfordshire House Martin Survey 2015

This local survey is complete.

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 have been published here.

Hertfordshire Rookery Census 2015

This local survey is complete. Survey website

Fieldwork for this survey is complete and results were published int he 2015 Hertfordshire Bird Report. Thank you to everyone who took part.

The results have been published here.