Waterbird counters needed
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is the UK's primary monitoring scheme for non-breeding waterbirds. Monthly counts are carried out by over 3,000 volunteers at wetland sites, both inland and coastal, with over 2,000 sites counted annually.
These counts are analysed to produce annual indices that are used to derive long-term population trends for all the regular species of waterbird in Britain and Northern Ireland. The data are also used to assess the importance of individual sites and identify those of national or international importance for different species.
Gaps in coverage
This list shows some of the important estuaries where there are currently vacancies for WeBS counters. Help to fulfil coverage would be especially appreciated, as these sites support large numbers of waterbirds, some in internationally important numbers. Away from these, there are plenty of other sites, both inland and coastal, where you may also be able to help — take a look at the online map.
Map of estuaries currently requiring extra coverage (map: BTO).
Ribble Estuary (Lancashire)
This is the UK's top site for Wigeon; in 2008/09, the monthly peak topped 100,000 birds! Thirteen other species occur in internationally important numbers.
Mersey Estuary (Merseyside)
With incomplete coverage since 2006/07, this is a high priority site for new counters. Available sectors include the Weaver Estuary, Frodsham and Oglet. The Mersey is the UK's top site for Shelduck, with over 15,000 gathering to moult in late summer. Numbers of Teal, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank are also of international importance.
The Wash (Norfolk)
Help is currently needed for the Dawsmere and Hunstanton sections. The Wash is the UK's premier site for waterbirds, supporting a monthly peak of over 350,000 birds, including up to 160,000 Knot.
Alde Complex (Suffolk)
Three sectors require counters: Orford Town Marshes and River Ore, Iken Marshes and Sudbourne Marshes. The Alde is of international importance for Avocet, with over 1,400 wintering birds.
Colne Estuary (Essex)
Help is needed for full coverage. The site is of international importance for Dark-bellied Brent Goose.
Blackwater Estuary (Essex)
Any offers of help would be much appreciated, particularly on the north shore where Osea Island, Goldhanger, Tollesbury Managed Retreat and Maldon to Tollesbury are available. Seven species occur here in internationally important numbers, including Grey Plover, Golden Plover and Dunlin.
Thames Estuary (Essex)
All help would be appreciated, especially with counting the Foulness area.
Langstone Harbour (Hampshire)
Help is needed at one of the UK's top sites for Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit.
Poole Harbour (Dorset)
Up to five counters are needed to help reach full coverage. Poole Harbour is internationally important for Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit and currently third in the UK list of sites for Red-breasted Merganser.
WeBS is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (the latter on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage), in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.