Breeding Bird Survey

What is the BBS?

The BBS is the main scheme for monitoring the population trends of most of the UK’s less rare breeding birds. It’s a volunteer survey organised by the British Trust for Ornithology for a partnership of BTO, RSPB, and the Government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The survey involves counting birds in a sample of randomly-selected areas (1-km squares). And doing so in those same areas every year for a number of years.

BBS in Hampshire

In Hampshire, we currently have a sample of 193 squares that we’d like to be surveyed annually (over 5% of the squares in the region). It’s never possible to get them all surveyed in any one year, but results were submitted for 153 squares in 2022.

How can you help?

BBS was designed to be easy to do; it’s not a territory mapping census! The survey only requires two visits during the breeding season, and noting down the birds along a 2-km fixed route. A typical visit takes less than two hours, and perhaps another hour for the online data-entry – for the two visits a total of probably no more than six hours per year.

So if you’re not already surveying a BBS square, and you’re confident that you can identify the majority of common birds by sight, song and call, then please think about whether you could do a BBS. Every active birder should be doing at least one BBS! And of course, if you’re already doing one, think about whether you could take on another; there’s no limit on how many you do!

There’s inevitably a regular turnover of volunteers as individuals’ circumstances change, and there will always be a few vacant squares requiring new observers. At present we have 19 squares available to be surveyed next year located across Hampshire. If you can help, or would like more information, please contact George Batho.