Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some commonly asked questions but if you cannot find an answer to your query please contact us
1. How do I get involved in WeBS?
First you need to contact your WeBS Local Organiser, they'll be able to tell you if there are any vacant sites in your area. If there isn't a Local Organiser for your region please use the "Interested in taking part?" section on the left to contact us and tell us a bit more about yourself.
2. What will I get when I join WeBS?
3. Can I choose which site I would like to count or is the site allocated to me?
If you have a site in mind then we will aim to allocate this to you but it will depend on whether or not somebody already carries out counts there. If your chosen site is already counted, we will be able to suggest other site local to you as an alternative.
4. Can you set up a new site for me?
Yes. All we need is a map showing the boundary of the area you will be counting and a six figure grid reference.
5. Do I have to show proof that I am a WeBS counter and will I need to get permission to access private land?
Being a WeBS Counter does not allow you to access private land. We can however provide you with a letter to show a landowner to verify your involvement in WeBS when asking for permission to access their land.
6. What are the differences between standard Core Counts and Low Tide Counts?
Core Counts are carried out at high tide when birds are gathered to roost. Low Tide Counts by their very nature are carried out over the low tide period to assess distribution of birds which complements the Core Counts.
7. I've forgotten my countercode/site number - does this matter when it comes to filling in my count form?
If you can't remember your countercode, please ensure that you include your full name, address and postcode on your count form so that we can find you on our system. If you don't know the site code, please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: Site%20code%20reminder) for a reminder.
8. Am I entitled to claim travel expenses?
No. Unfortunately, there is no money in the WeBS budget to be able to pay travel expenses to counters.
9. Are there any courses I can attend which will introduce me to WeBS counting?
WeBS Training Courses are being run, please visit the WeBS Training page for more details.
1. Do I have to submit my counts online?
No. Although we do encourage counters to submit their counts online, we are still happy for counters to send in their counts using paper forms.
2. How do I enter my counts on-line?
First you will need to register, please use the link on the left of the page to do this. Once you have registered please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: Please%20set%20me%20up%20for%20WeBS%20Online, amp, body: %20) with your username and the name of the site(s) you would like to enter data for.
3. I already have a BTO username and password - why can't I log into WeBS?
Due to the nature of the survey we have to manually give you access to WeBS Online. Please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org to tell us your username and the site(s) you need access to.
4. I've forgotten/lost my 'Log In' details - can you help?
Please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: WeBS%20Online%20log%20in%20reminder, amp, body: %20) with your name and address and we will be able to help.
5. Am I able to access counts for different sites / areas etc?
We are able to give you access to different sites/areas but only under certain circumstances. Please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: WeBS%20Online%20Access, amp, body: %20%20) with your request giving details of why you need access. Alternatively if you require data for commercial use these are only available as a data request.
6. I've input data incorrectly - can this be rectified?
Yes. Please use the "View/edit submission" button on the WeBS Data Home page. This is only available for counts entered within the current WeBS year, if you spot an older mistake please contact us at websonline [at] bto [dot] org (subject: Changes%20to%20WeBS%20data, amp, body: %20) with the details.
7. I've entered my counts but one or more of the species have been flagged in red - does this mean I've done something wrong?
Not necessarily. Counts can be flagged in red for a number of reasons, A) unusually high bird count; B) rarer species; C) out of season or D) the bird is a non-WeBS species. These may be genuinely very interesting records that we would like to receive or they may be data entry errors. Please check the whole list carefully. Review the records marked in red and do not submit them if you are doubtful about the reliability of your observations. If you have made a mistake just go back to the species list to correct it. We are aware that the threshold levels for certain species are currently set too low which causes these species to be flagged in red. If your data entry is correct please ignore the red flags, we check all of these warnings and we'll contact you if needed.
8. The boundary outline of my site is incorrect/missing, how can I change this?
Please send us a map with the correct outline clearly marked and we will correct it for you.
9. I have sent in a boundary map for my site but the map online is still incorrect why is this?
At the moment adding corrections to site maps is very time consuming therefore we only update the website once every few months when we have several changes to make. We are currently working with the IS team to provide us with a way of making this process more efficiant so that these types of chages are available online alot quicker.
10. I have submitted some counts on paper forms and have lost my copies - will it be possible to access my data online or get copies of the forms I have submitted?
Yes. If you require copies of your forms please contact us at webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: Copies%20of%20my%20WeBS%20forms, amp, body: %20) with details of the site name and/or code and which year(s) you require and we will post copies out to you.
11. I have just signed up to WeBS online but the data I returned recently on paper forms are not there - do I need to enter the data?
No. Data submitted on paper forms takes longer to process and therefore will not appear online for several months. If you input data that have previously been returned on a form you will be creating a duplicate count.
12. I have entered my counts online - do I still need to return a paper form?
No. There is no need to send in a paper form if you have submitted your data online, doing so will incur processing costs for us. If your Local Organiser has asked you to return forms even if you use the online system then please write "already input online" at the top of each form you return. This will ensure that they are pulled out prior to being processed.
13. I am experiencing problems with WeBS Online and cannot submit my counts?
Please make a note of any messages that appear and at which point they occur then send us an email at websonline [at] bto [dot] org (subject: Problems%20with%20WeBS%20Online, amp, body: %20) with these details and we will look into the problem for you.
1. Do I need to be an expert in bird identification?
No. All we ask that you can identify the common birds which will be found on your site. You do not need to know any bird songs or calls to carry out WeBS counts.
2. What species do I have to count?
All waterbirds, which includes ducks, geese, swans, cormorants, herons, crakes and rails, waders and Kingfishers. The counting of gulls and terns is optional, but please make a note on your form if gulls and/or terns are present and haven't been counted. A full list of species can be found in the Counter Resources section.
3. How often do I have to count?
WeBS Core Counts are carried out once a month, on or as close as possible to a pre-defined date. Counts within a complex site with many different sections should ideally be co-ordinated - please speak to your WeBS Local Organiser in this instance. Additional supplementary counts from other times of the month are also welcomed.
4. Why do I have to count on certain dates - why cant I choose when I count?
In order to avoid double counting, we ask that everyone counts on the same date. This is especially important on large sites where birds may move about the area - please speak to your WeBS Local Organiser in this instance. For other sites, counts up to a week either side of the offical count date can be accepted as long as there are at least three weeks between each monthly count.
5. Can I count on the Saturday before the count date if I am unable to do the count on the Sunday?
Yes, counts can be carried out a few days either side if you are unable to count on the Sunday. Counts within a complex site with many different sections should ideally be co-ordinated - please speak to your WeBS Local Organiser in this instance.
6. How long should I allow for each WeBS count?
This depends on the size of the site and the number of birds present. Small sites could take around 30 mins to complete whereas larger sites could take up to 1.5 to 2 hours.
7. Do I have to count at the 'same time' on each WeBS count?
Consistancy is preferred so if you can count at a similar time of day each time that would be helpfu. Morning is normally best when birds are most active on inland sites. For estuarine sites, the timing of WeBS Counts coincides with the tide time - please speak to your WeBS Local Organiser for times.
8. On summer counts, do I count chicks or very young birds?
No. Only waterbirds that are at least 2/3 grown should be included.
9. I get a lot of birds flying over my site, should I count these with my WeBS Counts?
Only birds using the habitat for feeding or resting should be recorded. Species such as gulls which are circling low overhead will be present due to the presence of the waterbody and so can be counted, but birds flying straight over without stopping should not be counted.
10. I cover more than one Core Count site/sector and there's alot of movement between them - how do I record flocks moving between sites/sectors?
If you have reason to believe that a flock has moved between sites/sectors, please only record them at one of the sites/sectors in an effort to avoid double counting.
11. Can I include counts of birds of prey, owls and non-waterbirds such as Reed Warblers?
There is the facility within WeBS Online to record some non-WeBS species though at present we do not analyse these data. Alternatively, you can record these species in BirdTrack.
12. Can I just count 'part' of my site if I haven't got a lot of time?
Yes. If you can not count the whole of your site, please ensure you check the "Count Accuracy" box, be it paper or online, to 'LOW' and tick the box marked 'I did not cover all of my count area'. This way we can account for any undercounts in our analyses which will occur as a result.
13. Would it be OK for my friend to help me with counts even though they are not a WeBS counter?
Yes. Please provide any additional counter's details (name and address) in the "extra information" section in WeBS Online or in the "Additional counters" box on your paper form. We can then allocate them a countercode for future use and ensure they receive their own copy of the WeBS Report and Newsletter.
1. How do I make an official complaint to the WeBS office?
If you would like to make a complaint about any aspect of WeBS please either send an email to webs [at] bto [dot] org (subject: WeBS%20Complaint, amp, body: %20) or send a letter to WeBS Office, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.