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: 21 February 2016

February for many can be the coldest month of the winter, and this winter has been remarkably mild and so some sudden cold weather can force birds to move.  Wildfowl in particular are prone to moving during cold spells and can turn up on any unfrozen waterbody.  Gull enthusiasts will see peak numbers of gulls, including some 'white-winged' guls from the high arctic in roosts or at coastal sites, maybe even an Ivory Gull will make an appearance. 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.


Browse Waterbirds in the UK 2013/14 online


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.