The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)

Welcome to the WeBS homepage. The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims of WeBS are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution, and identify important sites for waterbirds.  If you have any problems, please contact us.

50 Years of International Waterbird Counts

International Waterbird Census 50th Anniversary

This year is the 50th anniversary of the International Waterbirds Census (IWC). Given the importance of UK wetlands to international waterbird populations, the January counts from WeBS (and historically National Wildfowl Counts/ Birds of Estuaries Enquiry) have been an important component of this worldwide monitoring programme from the start.

If you are a WeBS counter and use social media, you can help celebrate by tweeting about your counts using the hashtags #waterbirdscount or #iwc50 or posting on our Facebook page. If you are not currently taking part in WeBS, you can still get involved immediately by surveying a stretch of coastline for the 2015/16 Non-estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) or reporting sex ratios of Pochard via BirdTrack. Or why not take the plunge and make this the year you join WeBS?

Map of IWC sites in 1967 and 2015

Map of IWC counts in 1967 compared with the number of IWC sites in 2015

Next WeBS Core Count date: 10 April 2016

April will see the arrival of summer visitors along with a good passage of birds moving to breeding grounds in the north of Europe. Garganey and Little Ringed Plovers are often the earliest arrivals and can turn up on remarkably small sites and by mid month Common Terns will start to appear on many inland lakes.  In such an exciting month with birds on the move, overshooting continental vagrants such as Purple Herons, Whiskered Terns and Collared Pratincoles may turn up. Stay safe and enjoy your WeBS Count!

WeBS report: Waterbirds in the UK 2013/14

Search the interactive online interface to find latest information on status of the UK’s waterbirds and the wetlands used by them.  [If you experience any difficulties loading the page, please press "F5" or "Refresh" your page on screen using the relevant button in the browser bar. Recommended browsers are Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer v.9 onwards].  With a new colour report providing a summary of the results and other waterbird related stories, the new style ‘WeBS annual report’ provides an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in waterbirds in the UK and beyond.


WeBS supports IWC in Sierra Leone

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative coordinates activities to improve integrated monitoring along the East Atlantic Flyway as part of the International Waterbird Census, particularly in western Africa where waterbirds tend to be poorly monitored. In January 2014, important sites on the coast of Sierra Leone were counted by a small team of volunteers from the UK and colleagues at the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL). As well as collecting important information on numbers of birds at sites in Sierra Leone, the two-week trip included training of CSSL staff in waterbird monitoring methods and engagement with local communities. In 2016 WeBS is continuing supporting capacity for waterbird monitoring in Sierra Leone by contributing towards local costs of IWC counts.