A review of the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) Low Tide Counts scheme with recommendations for its future operation.

Knot, by Liz Cutting BTO

Author(s): Clewley, G.D., Calbrade, N.A., Austin, G.E., Frost, T.M. & Burton, N.H.K.

Published: May 2022   Issue No.: 744

Publisher: British Trust for Ornithology Pages: 52pp

ISBN: 978-1-912642-35-9

Download article 6.34 MB application/pdf

This report presents a review of the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) Low Tide Counts scheme and its methods.


The BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) Low Tide Counts scheme, which was initiated in the winter of 1992/93, aims to monitor, assess and regularly update information on the relative importance of intertidal feeding areas of UK estuaries for wintering waterbirds. Counts are made mostly by volunteer observers across multiple sectors within a site between the months of November and February. The data gathered contribute greatly to the conservation of waterbirds by providing supporting information for the establishment and management of the UK network of Ramsar sites and Special Protection Areas, other site designations and whole estuary conservation plans.

We carried out a review of the WeBS Low Tide Counts scheme to: i) review the methods and coverage since the scheme began, ii) improve our understanding of temporal variability of within-site species distributions, and iii) improve our understanding of user requirements to be able to make recommendations to improve the value of the data collected. We used a combination of analysis of WeBS Low Tide Counts scheme data and a stakeholder questionnaire and workshop to address these aims.

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