Seabird Monitoring Programme logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo

in association with

RSPB Logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo

in association with

RSPB Logo

Taking Part

Fieldwork for the Seabird Monitoring Programme is undertaken by participants at both coastal and inland seabird sites.

Seabird survey volunteer. Gary Clewley
Monitoring seabirds. Gary Clewley 

What type of counts are carried out?

The SMP collects annual data on the breeding numbers and breeding success of seabirds.

  • Whole colony counts aim to count birds or nests within a defined count area. 
  • Productivity counts involve counting the number of apparently occupied nest sites, with a later visit to check for the presence or absence of chicks.

Additionally, annual and detailed monitoring is carried out by supporting organisations at four Key Sites: Fair Isle, Canna, Isle of May and Skomer. These sites were chosen to be representative of the major part of the range of most seabird species and complement the monitoring carried out by SMP.

What skills are required? 

You need to be able to identify the seabird species you plan to count. You can choose to survey just one species, such as Black-headed Gulls at an inland colony, or multiple species at a coastal site.

Seabird sites range from large colonies on coastal cliffs, burrows of nesting seabirds on islands to inland nesting gulls, terns and Cormorants. The timing and number of visits you need to make will depend on the species you are planning to count. The time commitment could vary from as little as 20 minutes a visit to whole day visits to a colony.

The recommended methodologies for different species can be found in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook for Britain and Ireland

You will need to enter the data you collect through the SMP Online Portal

How do I get involved? 

To get started, browse the map on the homepage of the SMP Online Portal. Zoom in on the map to show vacant sites (blue). If you are interested in a site, register for SMP and then click on the marker and complete the details to ‘Volunteer here’. The SMP Organiser will then get in touch with you. You can also smp [at] bto.org (contact the SMP Organiser) for more information.

Resources

The recommended methodologies for different species can be found in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook for Britain and Ireland

BTO provides Health and Safety information for volunteers, which we recommend you read before starting your surveys. 

You can download or view breeding abundance and success data directly from the SMP online database or data can be requested from the smp [at] bto.org (SMP Organiser).

Data from the previous national seabird censuses are also available for download.



Related content