BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey: squares available

This is a good time of the year to consider taking part in the BTO Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), because if you take on a square you will also have the option to take part in the Sussex Winter Bird Survey (SWBS) by surveying the same square over the coming winter, beginning on 1 November 2023. Some squares have recently become available and there are plenty of squares available right across the county; some of these squares are accessible if you have limited mobility or if you are reliant on or choose to use public transport.

This national monitoring scheme is administered by the BTO and jointly funded by the BTO, JNCC and RSPB. It has been running since 1994 and its primary aim is to provide population trends for common and widespread bird species in the UK. Population trends for Sussex are also produced and published in the Sussex Bird Report. Survey plots are randomly-selected 1-km squares and the same squares are surveyed each year. Volunteers visit their squares three times each year during the breeding season, once to record simple habitat data, and twice to walk a fixed route, recording birds seen and heard. There are more than 200 BBS squares across Sussex, covering every type of habitat, and new volunteers are always needed.

Volunteers must be able to recognise common and widespread birds by sight and sound, and must be able to physically get around a survey route reasonably early in the morning, but beyond those requirements absolutely anybody is welcomed into this survey scheme. Previous experience of survey work is not necessary and help and support from experienced volunteers can be arranged if required; there will also be some informal practice sessions arranged in Sussex in March and April 2024. Finally there is no requirement to conduct surveys alone – take a friend with you!

The BBS squares (asterisks indicate priority squares that have been surveyed before) in Sussex which currently need volunteers for the 2024 breeding season are (updated 16/11/2023):

SU7604 Thorney Island*
SU7800 near West Itchenor
SU7808 near Woodmancote*
SU8102 near Bosham Hoe*
SU8307 near West Stoke*
SU8527 near Milland*
SU8605 central Chichester*
SU8612 West Dean
SU9113 near East Dean*
SU9207 near Boxgrove*
SU9729 near Northchapel*
SZ7996 East Wittering*
SZ8199 near Birdham
TQ0124 near Kirdford*
TQ0205 near Lyminster*
TQ0826 Billingshurst
TQ1337 Okewood Hill (Surrey)*
TQ2536 Gossops Green
TQ2638 Langley Green*
TQ2836 central Crawley
TQ4326 near Nutley*
TQ4612 near Ringmer*
TQ4716 near Isfield*
TQ4821 Uckfield*
TQ4938 near Blackham*
TQ5026 High Hurstwood
TQ5128 near Crowborough*
TQ5130 central Crowborough
TQ5220 Blackboys*
TQ5228 near Crowborough*
TQ5312 Golden Cross*
TQ5435 near Eridge Station*
TQ5511 Lower Dicker*
TQ5523 near Hadlow Down*
TQ5738 Tunbridge Wells*
TQ5901 Willingdon*
TQ6419 Earl’s Down*
TQ7111 near Ninfield*
TQ7624 near Bodiam
TQ7811 Hollington*
TQ8518 near Udimore*
TV5797 near East Dean*

The following BBS squares may be accessible to you if you have limited mobility (including using a wheelchair) as the survey routes are entirely on pavements and minor roads:

SU8605 central Chichester
SZ7996 East Wittering
TQ2638 Langley Green
TQ2836 central Crawley
TQ4612 near Ringmer
TQ5130 central Crowborough
TQ5639 Tunbridge Wells
TQ5901 Willingdon

The following BBS squares may be accessible by train as they are close to rail stations (other squares may be easily accessible by bus):

SU8605 central Chichester
TQ2836 central Crawley
TQ4821 Uckfield
TQ5130 central Crowborough
TQ5738 Tunbridge Wells
TQ5901 Willingdon

For further information, please contact Helen Crabtree at