Atlas Update - February 2016
Fieldwork for the new London Bird Atlas has now finished, and we are in the process of writing up the results. We are expecting to publish the atlas results in 2017, and will announce the planned publication date on this page as soon as this has been confirmed.
The National Atlas
November 1st 2007 saw the start of an exciting new project nationwide, with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) beginning a new Atlas project to monitor the distribution of the UK’s birds in both winter and the breeding season. The fieldwork for the national Atlas was completed in 2011 and the results were published in 2013. More information can be found here.
The London Atlas
The LNHS and the two BTO Regional Representatives for the London area decided to take the opportunity to undertake a new London atlas at the same time as the National Atlas. This means that instead of recording lists of species for 10km squares in London (as we needed to for the national atlas), we recorded lists of species for each tetrad (2km square). There are 25 tetrads in each 10km square and a total of 856 tetrads in the LNHS area. Fieldwork for the London Atlas finished in 2013.
Why do a local atlas?
We have completed two previous Atlases in London – both in the breeding season at the same time as the previous national Atlases (1968-72 & 1988-94). The findings of the last Atlas were written up in ‘The Breeding Birds of the London Area’ (LNHS, 2002 edited by Jan Hewlett). This is obtainable for £10 – see our publications section.
This book includes the distribution of our London species approximately 20 years ago, represented by the 1988-94 distribution maps. By just flicking through a few pages, many birdwatchers will easily notice that the distribution of some species has changed markedly since that time, for example the Tree Sparrow, as illustrated on the right.
How are London's Birds Doing?
It is not all doom and gloom. Some species have increased their range in recent years, such as peregrine and little egret. In some cases, such as ring-necked parakeet, opinion will be divided as to whether this is a good or bad thing! By achieving complete coverage during this Atlas, we can compare these with results from last time to see how the picture has changed – this may highlight unexpected changes in other species as well as those like tree sparrow and peregrine of which we are already aware. The results of the Atlas could potentially affect conservation efforts in the LNHS area in the future.
Furthermore, we will for the first time be able to map the distribution of birds in London during the winter at the 2km square scale. This will allow us to produce the first ever winter Atlas for birds in London. Amongst other things, this will enable us to make a comparison between winter and breeding distribution for resident species in London and provide a valuable baseline against which to assess future change.