Breeding waders on BBS sites

There is an urgent need to improve our understanding of wader declines so that we can better conserve these threatened species.

Lapwing chick by Liz Cutting

BBS volunteers who record waders on their BBS squares have the opportunity to contribute to wader research by considering completing an additional third visit between mid-June to mid-July, after their second ('Late') BBS visit to collect valuable information on the breeding success of the waders they observe. By carrying out a 'Breeding Wader' visit, you could help us develop a simple methodology to obtain critical information on wader breeding success in different areas.

Collecting and returning data

The additional Breeding Wader (BW) visits will follow the same basic methodology as standard BBS visits, with some important differences. Only wader species need to be recorded on the BW visit, and some extra information on wader behaviour and presence of young will be recorded. These differences are fully explained in the BW Field Instructions, below.

If you are a BBS volunteer and would like to get involved, please either download the ,  and  or email waders [at] to request a paper pack of instructions and forms. After your BW visit, please email your completed BW Field Recording Sheet and BW Data Spreadsheet to waders [at]

If you would prefer not to use the BW Data Spreadsheet, you can email your field records and counts directly to waders [at] If you have any queries about collecting and returning data, please do get in touch using this email address.

How will these data be used?

Data from these BW visits will be helping to develop methods to assess wader breeding success without the need for intensive monitoring. Recent wader population declines in the UK are largely being driven by low breeding productivity. However, because waders are relatively long-lived birds, low breeding success can take a long time to translate into decreases in numbers of breeding pairs. This means that abundance information collected using standard wader survey methods, or derived from BBS data, is not well suited to delivering information on productivity.

The BW survey method we are asking you to help trial is intended to fill this information gap, revealing how productivity varies in space and time, and between different habitats and types of management. Methods like this should put us in a much better position to assess whether local wader populations are sustainable, and what we can do to help them.

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