International Waterbird Monitoring

International Waterbird Monitoring

For migratory waterbirds, international monitoring is essential to enable a deeper understanding of populations and provide important context to national results. Data from WeBS contribute to flyway trends and population estimates through the International Waterbirds Census (Africa-Eurasia flyway), organised by Wetlands International. WeBS also supports the development of waterbird monitoring in the flyway, and contributes expertise to the African-Eurasian Waterbird Monitoring Partnership through the Strategic Working Group. 

50 Years of International Waterbird Counts

International Waterbird Census 50th Anniversary

2016 was the 50th anniversary of the International Waterbirds Census (IWC). Given the importance of UK wetlands to international waterbird populations, the January counts from WeBS (and historically National Wildfowl Counts and Birds of Estuaries Enquiry) have been an important component of this worldwide monitoring programme from the start. The programme publishes waterbird population trends and population estimates that are used for setting the international importance thresholds used in the WeBS annual report.

Map of International Waterbird Census sites in 1967 and 2015

WeBS supporting IWC in Sierra Leone

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative coordinates activities to improve integrated monitoring along the East Atlantic Flyway as part of the International Waterbird Census, particularly in western Africa where waterbirds tend to be poorly monitored. In January 2014, important sites on the coast of Sierra Leone were counted by a small team of volunteers from the UK and colleagues at the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL). As well as collecting important information on numbers of birds at sites in Sierra Leone, the two-week trip included training of CSSL staff in waterbird monitoring methods and engagement with local communities. Read more about the trip in the winter 2014 WeBS newsletter (PDF, 2.67 MB).

In 2016 WeBS continued supporting capacity for waterbird monitoring in Sierra Leone by contributing towards local costs of IWC counts. Find out more about Sierra Leone waterbird monitoring on pages 24-25 of Waterbirds in the UK report 15-16 (PDF, 3.83 MB).