Birds survey techniques are vital as birds are often seen as a good measure of the ‘health’ of the environment and the data produced from sound, long term, surveys are essential to measure population trends. This bird survey course is for the keen amateur ornithologist or wildlife professional who would like to learn some basic bird survey techniques.

Early summer in the Welsh Borderlands provides a good range of habitats for birds and there will be the opportunity to practice both woodland and farmland surveys, including habitat assessment, in the countryside around Preston Montford. In addition, wetland surveys, coastal surveys, winter and other supplementary techniques will be covered in lectures. The summer Breeding Bird Survey technique will be of especial interest to members of the British Trust for Ornithology. There will be at least one early start so come prepared for long fieldwork days.

Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.
PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. There is no accommodation provided with this course. FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected]  Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.

Who Should Attend?

Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals. This intermediate level course is open to anyone with some knowledge of the subject.

Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage:  Framework and Course Level Descriptors

What will be covered during this course?

  • The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work.
  • Basics of good bird survey design.
  • Most appropriate survey for research questions or monitoring goals.
  • Considerations when using biological recorders and their records in survey schemes.
  • Analysis methods for interpreting survey methods.
  • Practical experience of techniques including point counts, transects, breeding bird surveys, population counts etc

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate ability and comptetency in carrying out a range of bird survey techniques
  • Critically evaluate a range of survey methods for birds, with reference to literature


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]

  • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
  • Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.


For Manchester Metropolitan University students, the Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment. In course tests are optional and less formal for participants who are not MMU students.

MMU students will be required to complete a bird survey report based on a survey carried out over the teaching period. The assessment is equivalent to 2000 words and show follow the layout of a scientific research paper. Students should include a critical evaluation of a range of bird survey methods, with reference to primary literature.

Tutor: Kevin Clements

Kevin Clements is a County Bird Recorder and Deputy Chairman of the West Midlands Bird Club. An experienced field ornithologist and naturalist, he has worked for many organisations in conservation and biological recording. Birding has taken him throughout the country and inspired him to pass on his knowledge and love of birds to others.

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give an outline of what to expect.

If you have booked accommodation and meals with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00 pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30 am on the morning of departure.

If numbers are sufficient a station pick up will be arranged at 5.30 pm from Shrewsbury Station.

The evening meal is at 6.30 pm (not included in the course fee - please book separately).

The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30 pm - 9.00 pm

The course ends at 4.00 pm on the final day.

Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day (not included in the course fee - please book separately).

19:30 – 21:00 Introduction to the group and course

06:00 – 08:00 Bird ringing at FSC Preston Montford
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:30 – 13:00 Benthall Edge Wood – a simple bird survey
13:30 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:30 Analysis of data
15:30 – 17:00 Additional Survey Techniques
18:30 – 19:30 Dinner
19:30 – 21:00 Territory Mapping

05:30 – 07:30 Territory Mapping Survey
08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:30 – 13:00 Tetrad Survey
13:00 – 13:30 Lunch
13:30 – 15:30 Analysis of data
15:30 – 17:00 Distance Estimation
18:30 – 19:30 Dinner
19:30 – 21:00 Distance Sampling

08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:30 – 12:30 Transect Surveys
12:30 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 14:30 Point Counts
14:30 – 15:00 Analyse Point Count data
15:00 – 15:30 Assignment
15:30 – 16:00 Review and finish

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks

What’s included?

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition and refreshments only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected]  Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.

Before You Attend

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can make any necessary adjustments.

What to Bring

  • Binoculars are essential, preferably between 8x30 and 10x50 – 8x40 are ideal, but miniature binoculars are not suitable.
  • You may wish to bring a telescope if you have one, but this is not essential.
  • Field Guide – you will need one for the Class Test.
  • Notebook and pen/pencil.
  • Scientific calculator.
  • Warm waterproof clothing and footwear, but not too brightly coloured or rustly.
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun cream for sunny days
  • A sandwich box, flask and/or water bottle and a rucksack or similar to carry your kit. Useful Books Any background reading is useful.

Recommended Reading

  • Bibby et al (2000). “Bird Census Techniques”. 2nd edition Academic Press.
  • Gilbert et al (1998). “Bird Monitoring Methods”. RSPB.
  • Sutherland W J (2006). “Ecological Census Techniques”. Cambridge University Press.
  • Svensson, Mullarney and Zetterstrom (2010) “Collins Bird Guide” 2nd edition. Collins. The first edition is perfectly useable but has an older taxonomic organisation.