House Martin (and Swift) Survey

The second year of the BTO House Martin survey is a nest study with the aim of monitoring the activities that take place over the course of the breeding season at individual nests with the emphasis on timing of nesting activity, the number of broods and outcome of nesting attempts. Full details are available on the BTO website (, from where you can log in or register to the House Martin Nest Study, and download the forms and instructions in preparation for the start of the survey. If you registered for the 2015 survey you will be able to log in and will not need to register again this year.

You can select your own site(s) to monitor. The BTO would prefer complete coverage of a small number of nests rather than partial coverage of a many. With this in mind please consider selecting a subset of nests if your local colony is large. House Martins are now starting to arrive at their colonies. Please try to start recording by the end of May at the very latest, or sooner if possible so that we can obtain information about the state of the nests before breeding activity begins in earnest.

Prompted by the poor results from last year’s BTO Survey, when House Martins where found nesting in only 8 of the 59 randomly allocated squares that occurred in Bedfordshire, it has been decided to run a county-wide House Martin survey in the summer of 2016. Please record all nesting House Martins that you find in the county, noting date, grid reference, place and address of nest site plus number of nests. For consistency with the BTO survey, a House Martin colony is defined as one or more nests on a SINGLE building or structure. Please provide information for each building separately, even if several buildings close together have House Martin nests. It would also be interesting to receive negative returns from areas where House Martins have nested previously but are absent in 2016. 

Please download the 2016 House Martin Survey Form

During fieldwork for the most recent atlas (2007 – 2011) House Martins were confirmed breeding in 175 of the 378 tetrads that comprise Bedfordshire with probable breeding in a further 42 tetrads. It would be good if coverage for this survey could match that of the atlas.

Swift Survey

Swifts, like House Martins, are declining in number and are now included on the Birds of Conservation Concern amber list. Graham Bellamy is hoping to start a Swift Action Group for Bedfordshire, details of which will appear on the website and on the BedsBirds email group. In the meantime, we would like to start collecting information on where birds are breeding in the county. As House Martins and Swifts nest in similar locations, it seems sensible to combine the surveys.

Please download the 2017 Swift Survey Form