WeBS aims to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and to identify important sites for waterbirds.

The wetland bird survey Image of ducks

Project topic: Habitats and species


The wetland bird survey (WeBS) monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK.

The wetland bird survey is the monitoring scheme for non-breeding waterbirds in the UK, which aims to provide the principal data for the conservation of their populations and wetland habitats. The UK is of outstanding international importance for waterbirds. Lying on some of the major flyways for Arctic-nesting species, large numbers of waterbirds are attracted, especially during winter, by the relatively mild climate and extensive areas of wetland, notably estuaries.

The UK thus has both moral and legal obligations to conserve both these waterbirds and the wetlands upon which they depend. The data collected by volunteers are used to assess the size of waterbird populations, determine trends in numbers and distribution, and assess the importance of individual sites for waterbirds, in line with the requirements of international conservation Conventions and Directives. Continuing a tradition begun in 1947, around 3,000 volunteer counters participate in synchronised monthly counts at wetlands of all habitat types, mainly during the winter period.

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, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage) in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

To learn more or take part, visit British Trust for Ornithology website.


This page was last updated on 03 Oct 2016

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