The national Bird Atlas 2007 - 2011 (Balmer et al 2013) was a huge and exciting project that set out to map the abundance and distribution of birds in Britain and Ireland during the breeding and winter seasons. It was a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Birdwatch Ireland and the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) and was the biggest survey of British birds ever undertaken.
There have been two previous breeding atlases 1968-72 (Sharrock 1976) and 1988-91 (Gibbons et al 1993) and one previous winter atlas 1981/82-1983/84 (Lack1986). These enable comparisons to be made and one can see the changes in distribution both during the breeding and wintering periods when compared with this latest Bird atlas of 2007 - 2011.In the past atlases have provided vital information for bird conservation. One of the important findings from the second breeding atlas in the late 1980s was the widespread range contraction of many of our farmland birds. This led to detailed research into the causes of these declines. The results from this new atlas, without doubt, will be the basis for the conservation of birds in Britain and Ireland for the coming decades.
In Suffolk an Atlas Working Group was formed to over-see the project: participants were Andrew Easton, Andrew Green, Colin Jakes, Peter Lack, Nick Mason, Steve Piotrowski, Rob Wilton and Mick Wright. The main aims of the working group were to seek total coverage at tetrad level for the whole of Suffolk, verify all the records and to publish the results in some form.