Taking Part

Counters are the lifeblood of WeBS.  Without the dedication of the volunteers who go out in all weathers to monitor the UK's waterbirds, WeBS just wouldn't be able to function.

Mallard. Photography by Jill Pakenham

What type of counts are carried out?

There are two main counts which make up WeBS, the Core Counts and Low Tide Counts.

What is required?

The survey involves visiting a local wetland site once a month throughout the winter and count the waterbirds there.  We do welcome counts from all months of the year but the main period we ask our counters to concentrate on is September through to March.

Read some background information (PDF, 719.58 KB) about WeBS.

What skills are required?

Anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching. Unlike many bird surveys, you don't have to know bird songs or calls to carry out WeBS Counts - just the ability to identify common waterbirds.

WeBS runs a number of 1-day and weekend training courses, centered on teaching bird survey techniques.

How is the survey organised?

The survey is organised via a network of voluntary Local Organisers (LOs). Your LO will give you more information, and will be able to allocate you a WeBS site to count.

Where are the survey sites?

A WeBS site can be any wetland area, be it an estuary, lake or reservoir to a river, stream or even your local village duck pond.  Many of the larger sites are regularly counted, but high priority vacant count areas do appear from time to time. However, even counts from small waterbodies are important - explore the vacant sites map to find sites near you where we need assistance; more information on using the tool can be found in: WeBS vacant sites map tool - hints and tips (PDF, 608.78 KB).

If you wish to count a completely new site, please contact the WeBS Office or your Local Organiser to discuss.

How do I get involved?

To get started, please browse our interactive vacant sites map.  Vacant sites are coloured different shades of blue depending upon their priority level.  You can navigate using the on-screen controls or you can use the drop-down options to zoom to a specific postcode, grid reference or WeBS region.  To register your interest for surveying a site:-

  • Select a site and click on the 'view details' button.
  • Click on the blue 'Contact the Local Organiser' button and complete the form that will appear.  This will send an email to the LO for that site. A copy of the email will be sent to you.
  • The LO will get in contact to talk to you about the survey and the site before allocating the site to you.
  • Once a site has been agreed, please register for WeBS Online and send your username (not your password) to your LO so that they can allocate the site to you.

If you have a site in mind that does not appear on the vacant sites map, you can contact your Local Organiser to discuss setting up a new area.

How do I return my data?

WeBS Online (PDF, 1012.42 KB) is the easiest and most convenient way to send your data to us.

Other questions

See our Frequently Asked Questions page.