All posts by vorisek

Shrinking distributions of northern boreal species

The observed changes are matching with the modelled distribution changes of the species. According to the bioclimatic envelope models and bird atlas data from 1970s and 1980s the species have predicted to loose 74-84% of their distribution in Finland by the year 2080.
The study used data of the Finnish bird atlases, which have been conducted during years 1974-1979, 1986-1989 and 2006-2010.

Virkkala, R., Heikkinen, R.K., Lehikoinen, A., Valkama, J. 2014: Matching trends between recent distributional changes of northern-boreal birds and species-climate model predictions. – Biological Conservation 172:124-127.

2014-04-22

Poleward density shifts are faster in northern boreal birds than in southern birds

The shift has been faster in northern species compared southern species. Densities of 23 species, including Black Grouse, Ruff, Greenfinch and Yellow Wagtail shifted more than 100 kilometres. The changes are likely linked with climate change, since the temperature of the northern and southern Finland has increase during the study period by 1.7 and 1.4 °C, respectively.
The species-specific comparison of density shifts with corresponding changes in the mean weighted latitude using presence-absence atlas data revealed that the densities moved more slowly than the weighted latitudes in the atlas data in the southern species examined, but more rapidly in the northern species.
Relative densities of species were calculated using line transect data since 1970’s. Altogether the data included nearly one million observations.

Virkkala, R. & Lehikoinen, A. 2014: Patterns of climate-induced density shifts of species: poleward shifts faster in northern boreal birds than in southern birds. – Global Change Biology (online early).

Documents from the workshop on the New European Breeding Bird Atlas and Atlas grids are available

2nd European Breeding
Bird Atlas is now on

EBBA is on Twitter EBBA is on Facebook

Visit a new EBBA2 website at
www.ebba2.info

The workshop was held in the Museu Blau, Natural History Museum of Barcelona, from 20 to 22 March 2013. The main goal of the workshop was to make progress in atlas work at national and European level particularly in countries that had asked for support in initial stages of the planning for the New European Breeding Bird Atlas.
More detailed report on the workshop will be published too, here we have made all the presentations available.
It was agreed at the workshop that the New European Breeding Bird Atlas will use the same grid as it was used in the first European Atlas. As the grid is very important for national atlas coordinators, it can be dowloaded here too:
Grid for Europe as well as for each individual country and atlas and abundance codes are available.

Petr Voříšek

Report on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, August 2007

New indices and indicators
Finalising production of updated set of European indices and indicators was one of the most important tasks in a reporting period. Record breaking amount of data we received from 20 countries meant also bigger effort needed for data quality control, data management and analysis. Finally, European indices and trends of 124 species were produced for period 1980-2005 and published on the web site. Updated European common bird indicators were produced too, published on the web site and in a form of press release . We applied new species habitat classification using an approach based on biogeographical regions. Procedure of species classification is described on the web site as well as full computation procedure incl. data quality control.
The European farmland bird indicator, which is a part of EU Structural and Sustainable Development Indicators set, has been provided to Eurostat, national versions of the indicators, which were approved by national scheme coordinators, were provided to Eurostat too.

Collation of new data for indices and indicators updates
In May 2007 we started to collate data for next update of indices and indicators, a process overlapping with presentation and further analysis of the last update. Since data collation and preparation of data for analysis is time demanding process and also because we strive to produce updates on annual basis, this overlap can not be avoided. We expect finalising data analysis by the end of 2007.

EBCC conference in Italy
The 17th international conference of EBCC, Bird Numbers 2007 “Monitoring for Conservation and Management”, which was held in April 2007, in Chiavenna (northern Italy), was great opportunity to present last project updates and to discuss further development. We took part in preparation of scientific programme, participated in three oral presentations and two workshops. For conference programme see .

Updating information on monitoring schemes in Europe
We updated information on generic breeding monitoring schemes in Europe published by Vorisek & Marchant (2003) in Bird Census News 16/1, 2003. Updates of this survey of surveys proofed to be very useful tool for assessment of current status of bird monitoring, identification gaps and areas for further development. Overview of bird monitoring schemes is also a useful source of information for those who seek to establish a new scheme, improve a current one or just to get more information on bird monitoring in concise form. The review has been published on the EBCC web site and apart of summarised information on e.g. field methods, sampling design it contains individual countries’ sheets where details for each country and scheme can be found . We plan to keep this web page updated regularly.

Software tool for production national indices using TRIM
According to our plans, a new software tool was developed for production of species trends and indices by TRIM. The tool, called BirdSTATs is an open source Microsoft Access database for the preparation and statistical analysis of bird counts data in a standardised way. The BirdSTATs tool is programmed to use and automatically run the program TRIM in batch mode to perform the statistical analysis for series of bird counts in the dataset. In this way it is suitable for use in all European countries participating in the Pan European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS). Using the BirdSTATs tool results in standardised indices that are used as subsets by the PECBMS for the calculation of overarching European wild bird indicators. The BirdSTATs tool was developed by Bioland Informatie and is available at the EBCC web site .

Further data analysis and scientific publications
Apart of presentations at workshops and conferences we have continued in more depth analysis of PECBMS outputs. A paper entitled Population trends of widespread woodland birds in Europe was published in Ibis on-line. This paper has used the previous PECBMS data set. We were also invited to contribute to special issue of Bird Conservation International dedicated to Colin Bibby where we drafted a manuscript summarising development of use of birds as indicators at national and international level.

Project promotion and development, reporting
As usually, important parts of PECBMS capacity were used for further development of new common bird monitoring schemes, improvement of existing ones, PECBMS network maintenance and promotion of the project and birds as indicators.
Assistance to a SEED project , supported by GEF was provided including assistance with setting up the project web site. Further assistance was provided to schemes and their coordinators in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (common grant proposal), various aspects incl. fundraising were discussed during PECBMS coordinator’s visits to Austria and Lithuania. We also provided assistance to I. Hristov (WCMC) on research on policy use of bird indicators.
Project coordinator reported to the Steering group of the project and to the EBCC Executive Committee incl. interim financial report.

Acknowledgements
We are grateful to all, who contributed to the project. Particularly coordinators of national or regional monitoring schemes, BirdLife partners, EBCC national delegates and thousands of volunteer ornithologists across Europe. Data analysis would not have been possible without huge effort of Arco Van Strien and Adriaan Gmelig Meyling at Statistics Netherlands. Members of an informal Technical group, Richard Gregory (RSPB), David Noble (BTO), Ruud Foppen (SOVON), Arco Van Strien (CBS) and Gregoire Lois (ETC) contributed by many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank to Zoltan Waliczky (RSPB) and Norbert Schaffer (RSPB) for their help and support.
Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project is a joint project of BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council, supported by the European Commission, Directorate General Environment, and by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The sole responsibility lies with the author of this article and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Contacts:
Project manager: Richard Gregory, Head of Monitoring and Survey, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, SG19 2DL, Sandy, e-mail: richard.gregory at rspb.org.uk.
Project coordinator: Petr Voříšek, Czech Society for Ornithology, Na Bělidle 34, CZ-150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic, phone +420 257212465, e-mail: EuroMonitoring at birdlife.cz.

&

European species indices and indicators 2007: Data and computation procedure in details

Data and computation
Countries contributing with their data.

 

The data come from 20 countries: Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy. Data from Estonia are old data from the first PECBMS attempt to produce European indices and cover limited number of species and time period (until 2000). Data from Belgium come from two regional monitoring schemes in Wallonia and Brussels resp. Data from former West Germany was treated separately from the data from former East Germany. Countries within the same group (region) used for calculation regional and European indices (see also below) are in the same colour.

Country/region Region (group of countries) First year Last year
Austria WE 1998 2005
Belgium-Brussels1) WE 1992 2005
Belgium-Wallonia1) WE 1990 2005
Czech Republic CEE 1982 2005
Denmark WE 1976 2005
Estonia 2) CEE 1983 2000
Finland NE 1983 2005
France 3) SE 1989 2005
Germany East 4) CEE 1991 2005
Germany West 4) WE 1989 2005
Hungary CEE 1999 2005
Italy SE 2000 2005
Latvia CEE 1995 2005
Netherlands WE 1990 2005
Norway NE 1995 2005
Poland CEE 2000 2005
Portugal SE 2004 2005
Republic of Ireland WE 1998 2005
Spain SE 1996 2005
Sweden NE 1975 2005
Switzerland WE 1999 2005
United Kingdom WE 1966 2005

WE – West Europe
NE – North Europe
SE – South Europe
CEE – Central & East Europe
First year – first year of data time series in a country/region
Last year – last year of data time series in a country/region
Time series for individual species from national schemes could be shorter in few cases.
1) Data for Belgium were combined from Wallonia and Brussels
2) Old data covering limited number of species and time period
3) Data in France come from two schemes, old and new one, data from both schemes were combined.
4) Data for Germany were combined from schemes in former East and West Germany.

In order to estimate missing values in countries with shorter time series with TRIM (a process analogical to production of indices at national level) we made groups of countries where we expect similar changes in bird trends. Thus we avoid e.g. estimating missing values in south European country using data from the North. Then, yearly totals for missing years for countries within a group were estimated.
Weighting factor for each country and species was calculated as population size (geometric mean of population minimum and maximum provided by Birds in Europe 2 (BirdLife International 2004) divided by estimated (model) scheme year total for the same years.
Combined year totals and their standard errors for whole group were then calculated using weighting factors.

Overview of computation steps incl. groups of countries:

Data quality control
National data on species trends were checked using criteria:
1. Data should be available from countries which host at least 50 % of ‚PECBMS European‘ population of a species. ‘PECBMS Europe’ – countries included in our definition of Europe for assesment of abundant and widespread species. Includes countries which contribute actively by data provision or are supposed to provide data by 2010. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
However, some parts of countries (states) listed above were not used and their population not considered in the assesment. These are: Faroe Islands and Greenland, Svalbard, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Gibraltar.
2. Ratio of national population size estimates (E) and scheme year total (T) and should not be < 1 or too high. Despite several species were excluded from an analysis using these criteria, European index of some species could not be estimated because of poor data. Such species were excluded as well. The computation was done using automation system developed by the Statistics Netherlands, but several species were selected randomly for checks of results – indices of these species were calculated by hands using exactly the same procedure and outputs of both computations were compared. European and regional species were checked for their use for production of indicators too. If a species index is classified as ‚uncertain‘* AND index value is >>>> 200% or <<<< 5 %, then the species index and data quality was examined in details. This criteria was considered as indicative, final decision taken (i.e. species to be potentially excluded from an indicator) considers also whether a species was used already in previous versions of the indicators, whether better data can be expected in near future and whether index fluctuation is believed to be caused either by poor data or by reasons not linked directly to habitat quality. This rather conservative approach is used in order to prevent bigger influence of subjective decision.
Three species were excluded at European level: Dendrocopos medius, Sylvia nisoria and Passer hispaniolensis. The same assessment was done for all versions of indicators produced.
Similarly as in case of species indices, the indicators were produced automation system provided by the Statistics Netherlands and also by hands and outputs were compared.

* 1)Trend classification

The multiplicative overall slope estimate (trend value) in TRIM is converted into one of the following categories. The category depends on the overall slope as well as its 95% confidence interval (= slope +/- 1.96 times the standard error of the slope).
  • Strong increase – increase significantly more than 5% per year (5% would mean a doubling in abundance within 15 years). Criterion: lower limit of confidence interval > 1.05.
  • Moderate increase – significant increase, but not significantly more than 5% per year. Criterion: 1.00 < lower limit of confidence interval < 1.05.
  • Stable – no significant increase or decline, and most probable trends are less than 5% per year. Criterion: confidence interval encloses 1.00 but lower limit > 0.95 and upper limit < 1.05.
  • Uncertain – no significant increase or decline, and unlikely trends are less than 5% per year. Criterion: confidence interval encloses 1.00 but lower limit < 0.95 or upper limit > 1.05.
  • Moderate decline – significant decline, but not significantly more than 5% per year. Criterion: 0.95 < upper limit of confidence interval < 1.00.
  • Steep decline – decline significantly more than 5% per year (5% would mean a halving in abundance within 15 years). Criterion: upper limit of confidence interval < 0.95.

Species habitat classification for 2007 European common bird indices and indicators

In the third set of European indices and indicators, ´2007 update´, 124 species were classified as ´common farmland species´, ´common forest species´, or ´other common species´, and three main indicators produced (´common farmland´, ´common forest´, ´all common species´). Species classification is based on assessments within biogeographical regions in Europe, an approach described below.
The recommendation that species selection should be tried at the level of bio-geographical regions in Europe comes from PECBMS miniworkshop held in March 2005 in Lednice, Czech Republic. It was felt that this might be more sensitive to local adaptation and may prove much more workable than at the gross continental scale. This would recognise that birds do slightly different things in different places, and better use local expertise in the process of species selection. If species sets could be agreed at this level then they are likely to be better suited to national use in those regions, although they might still be questioned at the national level. Constructing a pan-European index on this basis would be feasible but would require some modification of computational methods.
Procedure initiated in Lednice was approved and developed further at the PECBMS workshop in Prague, Czech Republic, in September 2005. Regional coordinators, who were responsible for production of regional species lists in cooperation with all relevant experts within their regions, were appointed and time schedule approved.
The regions and their coordinators:
Central & East Europe ´Continental´
Regional coordinators: Attila D. Sandor (replaced later by Petr Vorisek) & Hans Schmid
West Europe ´Atlantic´
Regional coordinator: Henning Heldbjerg
South Europe ´Mediterranean´
Regional coordinator: Lorenzo Fornasari
North Europe ´Boreal´
Regional coordinator: Sören Svensson

Regions:
West Europe, ´Atlantic´
Countries: Belgium, Denmark, France Atlantic, West Germany Atlantic, Ireland, Netherlands, UK.
South Europe ´Mediterranean´
Countries: France Mediterranean, Italy Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal.
Central and East Europe ´Continental & Pannonian´
Countries: Austria, Czech Republic, East Germany, West Germany Continental, France Continental, Hungary, Italy Continental, Poland, Switzerland, potentially Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, (Lithuania).
North Europe ´Boreal´
Countries: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden.

Criteria used for species selection:

  • Abundant and widespread species to be used preferably. Species with > 50 000 breeding pairs in ´PECBMS Europe´ are considered as widespread. However, other species could be added too.
  • Characteristic farmland or forest species, and all other species, i.e. 3 groups of species should be selected.
    Species characteristic for farmland or forest per region should be selected using assessment of predominant regional habitat use – farmland, forest, other – the percentage of the regional population that uses farmland/forest for breeding or feeding (0-25; 25-50; 50-75, >75; situation in 2000). Any links with a driving force should be indicated.

Then, we checked if the species selected are sufficiently abundant in the regions, compared species selection between regions, compiled final species list and circulated it to national coordinators for sight and approval.
Regional coordinators were provided with unified excel tables and instructions how to use them.

More detailed rules were applied when regional species classifications were combined:
Species where data provided by national schemes did not cover more than 50% of PECBMS European population* were excluded (with some minor exceptions), population size estimates published by BirdLife International (´Birds in Europe 2´) was used.
A species was classified to selected habitat category if:
all regions agreed (not always four regions, but always at least two regions had to provide their classification), or
one region (minority) classified a species differently than the others.
In some cases a species classification was provided by one region only, but if it was a species concentrated in such region and not occurring elsewhere in Europe, the species regional classification was accepted as European too.
If regional classifications differ completely, a species is considered as ´other´.

Final list of species and their classification can be downloaded here.

* PECBMS Europe´ – countries included in our definition of Europe for assesment of abundant and widespread species. Includes countries which contribute actively by data provision or are supposed to provide data by 2010. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
However, some parts of countries (states) listed above were not used and their population not considered in the assesment. These are: Faroe Islands and Greenland, Svalbard, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Gibraltar.

New project helps to measure the progress towards halting the loss of biodiversity by using birds as indicators.

The Common Bird Monitoring scheme is based on estimation of data, collected by large number of reporters. The survey is designed to be a quick, simple and, most importantly, an enjoyable birdwatching exercise. Survey sites are randomly selected 1×1-km squares. Observers make just three visits per year to specially selected squares, the first to record habitat types and to set up a suitable survey route (only first year), and the second and third to record birds that are seen or heard while walking along the route. The CBM is based on the establishment and coordination of a network of volunteers who have to spent about 6 hours per year to count their plots, following the certain methodology of observation.
Organizations, involved in this project are Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds which is the leading the project, Romanian Ornithological Society, Akhova Ptushak Batsakaushchyny in Belarus, Doğa Derneği in Turkey, Polish Society for the Protection of Birds and Lithuanian Ornithological Society which all are BirdLife partners, Macedonian Ecological Society and the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) project, which is joint initiative of European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and BirdLife International.

The countries involved in the project have different levels of experience with CBM schemes and this is the reason to be grouped. Group 1 includes Belarus, Turkey and Macedonia which do not have CBM scheme operational yet; group 2 – Romania and Lithuania which have running CBM schemes but with limited species and habitat coverage and group 3 – Bulgaria and Poland which have full running CBM schemes but still have room for improvements, especially in knowledge of young and inexperienced fieldworkers.

The activities under the project and the expected outputs are focused on filling critical gaps in the CBM schemes implementation, sharing experience and knowledge between partners and influencing relevant state institutions and politics for adopting Wild Bird Indicators. Thus a close cooperation with decision makers is a key activity under the project, especially for the countries that have already started CBM schemes but the results from these schemes are still not officially recognized on state level.

Among the main activities, planed to be implemented are capacity assessment of the countries to start and implement full CBM or international census plots, training workshops, and forums for decision makers, setting up a system to collect field ornithological data form the volunteers via Internet, production of information materials for participants such as simple bird guides on local languages and CD with bird songs and awareness materials for policy and decision makers like annual reports with results from the CBM, species population trends and bird index, ‘audit’ of national policy & legislation use of CBM outputs, etc.

The project is expected to bring a lot of essential outcomes as for the countries in which it is implementing as well as for the participating organisations. One of the main outcomes is shared experience and improved knowledge across the countries for establishing and running a CBM scheme as a successful citizen science based initiative that can produce scientifically accurate and meaningful biodiversity impact indicators based on wild bird populations and in the same time strengthen the organisations involved.

Sylvia Barova

For more information:
Sylvia Barova –Project coordinator, BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria
tel.: +359 2 971 58 55
e-mail: sylvia.andonova@bspb.org
www.bspb.org

Report on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring, August 2006

According to conclusions from PECBM workshop in September 2005, collation of data for updated European species indices and indicators started in March 2006 with expectations that all national data will be available to the central coordinator at the end of May 2006. However, because of capacity reasons some countries or regions have delivered their data with some delay. Fortunately, this delay has not affected a process of data checking and preparation for production of European indices. Although data from few countries are still missing, we do our best to help national coordinators and to get larger set of species data than previously.
Similarly, selection of species for updated indicators has been delayed, reasons were explained in previous report on this web site. Since spring 2006, draft proposal of species list from Central European (Continental) region has been produced and sent to relevant national contacts for discussion, final list for this region will be produced within one or two weeks. Then, all regional lists will be compared and European list of species will be produced and sent for final approval to national monitoring coordinators. We expect that final species lists will be available for production of updated indicators by the end of 2006.
Assistance and advice to coordinators of monitoring schemes is a part of duties of central coordination unit – together with Arco Van Strien (Statistics Netherlands) we answered several queries from coordinators on problems with TRIM, databases and data management. Since we try to increase capacity at national level and make work of national/regional monitoring coordinators easier works on development of a software tool for production of national indices using TRIM started in summer 2006.
In cooperation with BirdLife International European Division, we prepared guidelines on use of Farmland Bird Indicator according to the new EU Rural Development Regulation. The guidelines have been distributed among BirdLife Partners and EU Member States representatives at the Green Week in Brussels at the beginning of June 2006. At the same time, first glossy report State of Europe’s Common Birds has been published and distributed to our contacts, national monitoring coordinators, EBCC national delegates, BirdLife Partners and other stakeholders. The brochure is also available at this web site in pdf format. The report is based on data collated in 2004/2005, the next version, which should contain updated European species trends and indices and indicators, is planned to be published next year.
European trends of common bird species, particularly common forest species, have been explored in some details and results of this exploratory analysis were presented by Richard Gregory at the BOU conference on woodland birds in April 2006. Based on this analysis and presentation, manuscript of a scientific paper was submitted for publication in an ornithological journal. PECBM results were also presented at the International Ornithological Congress in Hamburg, August 2006 as an oral presentation in a session on birds as indicators.
Project web site has been updated with reports from national schemes in Russia and Spain, more such contributions from other monitoring schemes will be appreciated too.
In order to increase capacity at central coordination level, new technical assistant was hired to the PECBM office in Prague: Alena Pazderová joined our project in August 2006. Alena has graduated at Department of Zoology Charles University in Prague and during the recruitment process proved to be the best candidate for this job. Her official e-mail address is pazderova@birdlife.cz, but she can be contacted also at another email address alenapa@email.cz, phone number and postal address are the same as PECBM office contacts. PECBM office postal address and phone number have changed in May 2006, when the CSO office moved to new place in Prague. All PECBM cooperating individuals and organisations have been informed about this change, new address is also given below.

Acknowledgements
We are grateful to all, who contributed to the project. Particularly coordinators of national or regional monitoring schemes, BirdLife partners, EBCC national delegates and thousands of volunteer ornithologists across Europe. Data analysis would not have been possible without huge effort of Arco Van Strien and Adriaan Gmelig Meyling at Statistics Netherlands. Members of an informal Technical group, Richard Gregory (RSPB), David Noble (BTO), Ruud Foppen (SOVON), Arco Van Strien (CBS) and Gregoire Lois (ETC) contributed by many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank to Zoltan Waliczky (RSPB) and Norbert Schaffer (RSPB) for their help and support.
Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project is a joint project of BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council, supported by the European Commission, Directorate General Environment, and by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The sole responsibility lies with the author of this article and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Contacts:
Project manager: Richard Gregory, Head of Monitoring and Survey, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, SG19 2DL, Sandy, e-mail: richard.gregory@rspb.org.uk.
Project coordinator: Petr Voříšek, Czech Society for Ornithology, Na Bělidle 34, CZ-150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic, phone +420 257212465, e-mail: EuroMonitoring@birdlife.cz.

Petr Voříšek

Starting of the farmland bird monitoring in European Russia

Background
In the conditions of huge territories and a variety of landscapes of the European Russia, at the restricted amount of professional ornithologists and very insufficient modern financing of ornithological and conservation researches, it is extremely difficult to obtain enough exact data on farmland bird trends.
Now there are essential changes in the Russian agriculture, which directions are variously in different regions of Russia. In southern regions and in the Volga District the intensification of agriculture gradually begins, whereas in northwest and northern regions recession of agriculture and abandonment of farmland proceeds. An absence of long-term monitoring in Russia is significantly risky for some farmland bird populations. Without long-term monitoring we have no opportunities to notice the beginning of numbers decrease, and to accept preclusive measures for protection of some species. It is very serious, because Russian populations of some birds are the largest in Europe. They can be considered as the important reserve for additional charge and restoration of local (regional) populations in some European countries. In this connection, starting of the farmland bird monitoring in European Russia and its accession to the Pan-European Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBM) is extremely important.


Yellow Wagtail in the hay meadow near Ryasan, photo by A. MischenkoIn 2006 we could begin monitoring of farmland birds in the European Russia due to financial support of the Dutch embassy in Moscow. Russian coordinator of this program is Alexander Mischenko.

Resources
Basis of the farmland bird monitoring in the European Russia are experienced volunteers, circles of young ornithologists and some professional ornithologists, who agree to participate in the monitoring voluntary, in addition to their basic work.
After wide dissemination of the information about the probable beginning of the Farmland Bird Monitoring in Russia via the magazine of RBCU “World of birds” and the web-site of the Russian Bird Conservation Union (RBCU) we have received the offers on participation in the monitoring from 36 volunteers, some from them can cover several census routes.
Thus we plan to cover more than 40 census sites. They are enough widely distributed on the territory of the European Russia (from Komi and Karelia republics in the north taiga zone to Dagestan Republic near the Caspian Sea; from the Kaliningrad Region on coast of Baltic in the West to the Volga basin in the East).

Objectives
The objectives of the work are:

  • Making the network of volunteers, participating in bird counts, attraction their attention to problems of the biodiversity conservation in farmlands.
  • Including the European Russia into the PECBM scheme, producing relative national indices and trends on the standard PECBM methods in the nearest years, first of all for the indicator farmland bird species.
  • The wide information about results of the first stage of monitoring in the European Russia in the magazine and the web-site of the RBCU and some other magazines, with the purpose of money search for continuation of the farmland bird monitoring the next years, increase in number of voluntary participants and amount of census plots.

Methods
Beforehand, prior to the beginning of field works, the detailed guidelines and special standardised survey forms were dispatched to all participants of the monitoring. The experience obtained during the voluntary based Corncrake Monitoring in European Russia (2002-2005), was critically analysed and used. After receiving of the guidelines, participants sent many questions, which the coordinator constantly answered by e-mail or by mail.
In connection with that in Russia is impossible to cover the territory with systematic survey squares (1×1 km) now, census routes will be selected freely by observers: participants of monitoring will choose places of their summer vacations, vicinities of summerhouses (dachas), areas of basic field works, biological stations, etc. We have decided to use the method of routing counts in the length of 2 km, developed by Jury Ravkin (Ravkin, 1967) and widely used by Russian ornithologists; with registration of birds on a distance from the surveyor. Application of this method will allow using earlier data, available in some regions for comparison. However, the census plots should be typical for regional farmland. Data on bird numbers will be collected annually by the censuses on transect routes 2-kilometer length. Observers will make three visits to selected sites, the first to record habitat types and to set up a suitable survey route, and the second and third to record birds that are seen or heard while walking along the route. Their terms will vary a little, depending on latitude.
For motivation of volunteers an annual newsletter will be issued, in which participants of monitoring can publish short notes on results of the work. Also gifts for the most active observers are supposed (binoculars, t-shirts, field guides etc.).

Expected results
We suppose that the main result of the work in the first year will be starting of the farmland bird monitoring in the European Russia. It will be the first step to yearly provision of bird species indices in Russia by the national coordinator. In the next years these data can become an important part of the Pan-European Bird Monitoring Scheme.
In 2006 volunteers will do surveys only in different types of farmland, not mentioning forest sites and others habitats, because we did not manage to find money by the beginning of woodland bird monitoring. But nevertheless, by way of experiment, we have decided to try to carry out counts in several wood sites, also with application of volunteers, on the similar methods.
We are planning actively search money for the continuation of monitoring of all common birds (in farmland and woodland habitats) in the next years. In this case European Russia can be integrated into the PECBM. We hope that in the next years Russian data will enable to calculate more correct indices and trends of the farmland birds for Europe as a whole.
Contact: Alexander Mischenko, Russian Bird Conservation Union, e-mail: almovs@mail.ru.

Alexander Mischenko

Report on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring, April 2006

Detailed report on progress in the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring (PECBM) for period 2002-2005 was presented at the PECBM workshop in September 2005. This report aims to inform about developments in the project in period from July 2005 to April 2006, although some activities mentioned in this report were realised even before July 2005.
As it was widely publicised, also at this web site, updated European indices and indicators for time period 1980-2003 have been produced using the data provided kindly by 18 European countries. The indicators were officially launched in June 2005 in Brussels and since farmland bird indicator has been accepted to the long list of EU Structural Indicators and also to EU Sustainale Development Indicators, the index of farmland birds is also available at the Eurostat web site.
Furthermore, European indices and trends of 77 species have been made available at this web site.The species trends were presented also at EOU conference in Strasbourg (August 2005) and the first glossy report State of Europe’s Common Birds is to be published in Spring 2006. The PECBM was mentioned, recommended or PECBM outputs were used at several other opportunities by various institutions and individuals. For instance, wild bird indicator was suggested in press release and report by European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC); mentioned in EEA core set indicators guide or “Environmental Indicators for Agriculture” report by OECD.
Major event for Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring was a workshop organised in September 2005 in Prague, Czech Republic. National monitoring coordinators, other experts on bird monitoring, representatives of BirdLife Partners and national EBCC delegates met to hear about progress in the project since 2002, discuss practical issues (e.g. selection of species for indicators or combinig data from more schemes in one country) and share experience with running a monitoring scheme including such difficult issues as funding or motivating volunteers as fieldworkers. The workshop program, presentations, outputs from discussion groups and conclusions from the workshop were published in electronic form on a CD-ROM, which is available at the project coordinator on request.


Participants of the workshop in Prague, September 2005, photo by Z. VermouzekAccording to the workshop conclusions, new data collation procedure was intended to start in January 2006, data to be collated by the end of April/beginning of May 2006. The aim is to produce updated indices and indicators by the end of 2006. Ideally, the updated European indices will include data from 2005 too. Implementation of this plan has been dependent on species selection – new lists of species based on work of regional coordinators appointed at the workshop were expected before the end of 2005.
However, not all the regional species lists were delivered on time. Thus, it was decided to continue working on species selection in parallel with data collation. National indices of all species with data available in countries will be collated and species for indicators selected later. New data provision forms were distributed to national/regional monitoring coordinators at the end of March 2006 with deadline by the end of May 2006.
Data management and production of the outputs become more complicated with increasing number of contributing countries, increasing number of species we produce trends and indices, which means we need to improve our system of data flow and computation procedures and also quality control. We need to increase capacity at national level and make production of national trends and indices easier for national monitoring coordinators. This will be possible thanks to a grant by the European Commission, which started in January 2006 and will last to September 2007. The objectives of the grant are: 1. to ensure updated European wild bird indicators can be produced regularly, 2. to improve wild bird monitoring data analysis and quality control techniques,3. to improve quality and speed of data flow from countries to the PECBM co-ordinator, 4. to improve the quality and scientific credibility of the indicators.
The project will implement a standardised system for automated data collection and analysis for use by the national monitoring schemes. The system in place for creating indicators at the European level from national data will also be improved. A full review on wild bird monitoring schemes in Europe will be undertaken to assess current status and identify areas for further improvement. Best Practice guidance for national wild bird monitoring will be prepared and disseminated. An ecological analysis of population status and trends amongst wild bird species within Europe will be undertaken to identify trends and patterns. This will be used to validate the monitoring data upon which the indicators are based. The monitoring network will be maintained through visits of the coordination staff to participating countries, and through the dissemination of network reports to share progress and results. The project will be promoted through pages on the EBCC website, through presentations at relevant conferences, and through the production of the ‘State of Europe’s Common Birds report’. New staff, a technical assistant of the project coordinator, will be hired.
We have also seen development in monitoring at national level. New project “Strengthening the Capacity of NGOs to create and use Wild Bird Indicators as tools to affect policy change for the achievement of the Convention of Biological Diversity and European Union targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2010” has received the support by GEF recently with seven countries involved: Bulgaria (BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, leading partner), Belarus (APB/BirdLife Belarus), Macedonia (Macedonian Ecological Society), Romania (ROS/BirdLife Romania), Turkey (Doğa Derneği/BirdLife Affiliate in Turkey), Poland (OTOP/BirdLife Poland) and Lithuania (LOD/BirdLife Lithuania). New common farmland bird monitoring scheme commenced in Russia with a support by the Netherland’s embassy in Moscow. Such development at national level brings a hope that we will be able to make a gap in PECBM geographical coverage smaller within next few years.
We are grateful to all, who contributed to the project. Particularly coordinators of national or regional monitoring schemes, BirdLife partners, EBCC national delegates and thousands of volunteer ornithologists across Europe. Data analysis would not have been possible without huge effort of Arco Van Strien and Adriaan Gmelig Meyling at Statistics Netherlands. Members of an informal Technical group, Richard Gregory (RSPB), David Noble (BTO), Ruud Foppen (SOVON), Arco Van Strien (CBS) and Gregoire Lois (ETC) contributed by many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank to Zoltan Waliczky (RSPB) and Norbert Schaffer (RSPB) for their help and support.
Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project is a joint project of BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council, supported by the European Commission, Directorate General Environment, and by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The sole responsibility lies with the author of this article and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Contacts:
Project manager: Richard Gregory, Head of Monitoring and Survey, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, SG19 2DL, Sandy, e-mail: richard.gregory@rspb.org.uk.
Project coordinator: Petr Voříšek, Czech Society for Ornithology, V Olšinách 449/41, CZ-100 00 Prague 10, Czech Republic, e-mail: EuroMonitoring@birdlife.cz.

Petr Voříšek