Rooks are in trouble and need help. They have been moved from Green to Amber in the recently published Birds of Conservation Concern 5 and are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN European Red List. Here in Wales, they appear to be in more trouble than elsewhere. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) index for Wales fell by 58% during 1995-2018, accelerating after 2010, and the rate of decline is considerably greater here than in any other UK nation.
To try and establish why the decline has been so rapid here; to map out in greater detail the distribution of Rook and to create a robust breeding population estimate in Wales, the Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS) is running a breeding Rook Survey during the Springs of 2022/2023. It will be a tetrad (2km x 2km) based survey and we have 56 tetrads allocated to us within the Gwent BTO region. Please note that this varies slightly from the VC Gwent.
Can you help?
If you’ve never taken part in a bird survey before, this is an excellent survey to start off with. All you need to be able to do is to confidently identify a Rook and then count the nests in any rookeries you may find on a single visit to your allocated tetrad, sometime between 1 March and 15 April. Or, if there are no rookeries in your tetrad, record a ‘0’ and become a ‘Zero Hero’. Negative data are equally as important as counts in this survey – particularly if you know where there was once an active rookery which has now fallen silent.
How to book your tetrad and send in your data.
To find out more about the survey and to find vacant tetrads in our region, please visit the WOS website https://birdsin.wales Alternatively, for more information and to register your interest in the survey, email firstname.lastname@example.org You can book a tetrad for survey by clicking on https://app.bto.org/batmap/squares/walesrooks
There will be an online data entry system to enter your counts, which will be available on 1 March. Alternatively, paper forms will also be available to those who prefer to submit their data in that format.
WOS is very grateful to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for funding part of this survey, to the BTO for supporting the creation of the tetrad booking app and to the RSPB for scientific advice. We hope we can have your invaluable support too so that, together, we can contribute to the future conservation of Rooks in Wales.
Anne Brenchley, WOS Rook Survey Coordinator
Chair – Welsh Ornithological Society