Seabird Monitoring Programme logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo

in association with


Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo

in association with


Seabird Monitoring Programme

Kittiwake. Edmund Fellowes

The Seabird Monitoring Programme monitors the population changes of our internationally important breeding seabird species at coastal and inland colonies across the UK.

Britain and Ireland are home to the majority of Europe’s breeding seabirds, so our seabird breeding colonies - both coastal and inland - are of international importance. It is vital, therefore, that we have up to date information on their status and health. The Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) monitors breeding seabirds throughout the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on an annual basis to provide data for the conservation of their populations. The scheme also provides the foundation in enabling vicennial breeding seabird censuses of the UK and Ireland.

Scheme participants, both non-professional and professional surveyors, visit sites at both inland and coastal locations to count numbers of breeding seabirds and, where possible, their chicks to monitor breeding success. Additional data on survival, diet and phenology are collected at Key Sites.  

Seabird Monitoring Programme Handbook

BTO are looking to fundraise in the near future to allow us to review and modernise the SMP handbook. Species experts will be invited to assist with chapters of this handbook, and considerations are underway with regards to the inclusion and guidance for new technologies, e.g., drone use. Watch this space!

Time / skill required

  • As little as 20 minutes to whole-day surveys, in the breeding season.
  • Able to identify seabirds by sight, and follow the count methodologies described in the SMP handbook.
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Project timeline, contributions & findings

Project timeline

  • March - Scheme participants receive SMP newsletter; fieldwork planning begins
  • April - Fieldwork may begin, depending on the target species
  • June/July - Peak fieldwork season
  • September - End of fieldwork
  • October - Scheme participants enter data into SMP Data Portal 

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Partners and supporting organisations

The SMP is funded jointly by the British Trust for Ornithology and Joint Nature Conservation Committee, in association with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and is supported by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland, and a wider advisory group. Close collaboration with organisations in the Republic of Ireland enables all-Ireland interpretation of seabird trends.

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo
RSPB logo
Natural England logo
Natural Resources Wales logo
NatureScot logo

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