Waterways Breeding Bird Survey logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Logo

Project partners

British Trust for Ornithology logo
JNCC logo
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Logo

Waterways Breeding Bird Survey

Dipper by Edmund Fellowes

The Waterways Breeding Bird Survey is an annual survey of breeding birds along rivers and canals.

Rivers and canals are great places for birds and birdwatchers, creating wildlife corridors that strike into the heart of our cities and stretch from moorland to estuary. The Waterways Breeding Bird Survey (WBBS) provides both a great excuse for a summer morning walk and an effective way to monitor the health of the species that live by our waterways.

The WBBS uses transect methods akin to those of the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) but with minor adaptations to a linear habitat. Volunteers walk along from just 500 metres to a maximum of 5 km of waterway, making a note of all of the adult birds that they see and hear. Surveys are conducted twice a year, between April and June, along with a reconnaissance before that to check the route. Data is then submitted by the end of August, via field recording forms or to submit your data on BBS-Online.

WBBS results supplement BBS with additional data on the birds and mammals specifically in waterside habitats. WBBS covers all bird and mammal species but is especially valuable for monitoring the population trends of specialist animals of linear waters, such as Goosander, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher and Dipper.

Time / skill required

  • Undertake three site visits between April and June - a recce and two morning visits, along with data entry.
  • Able to identify UK breeding birds by sight, song and call.
  • Able to identify UK breeding birds by sight, song and call, but want to learn more about WBBS method? We can look into finding a mentor for the first visit or two - wbbs [at] bto.org (email us).
Project Leads
Email Contact
wbbs@bto.org
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Project timeline, contributions & findings

Project timeline

  • February – March Forms sent or downloaded
  • March Reconnaissance visit
  • Early April – mid May Early visit
  • Mid May – late June Late visit
  • End of August Data entry deadline

Read the latest BBS report

The Waterways Breeding Bird Survey started in 1998, and the annual Breeding Bird Survey report is produced every year containing population changes and other results from both the BBS and WBBS schemes.

Read the BBS report now

Partners and supporting organisations

The WBBS falls under the Partnership umbrella of the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey. WBBS is grateful to The Environment Agency for England and Wales for sponsoring WBBS development during the surveys early years. The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey, incorporating the WBBS, is a partnership jointly funded by the BTORSPB and JNCC with fieldwork conducted by volunteers.



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