Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey III

Purple Sandpipers by Dave Wragg

Purple Sandpipers by Dave Wragg

The United Kingdom is internationally important for its numbers of wintering waterbirds, and many of these are monitored annually by the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts. However, the WeBS counts are mostly made on estuaries and inland waterbodies, therefore leaving the majority of the coastline uncounted. The 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) will focus coverage on these important and under-recorded habitats. 

Why is a new survey required?

It is known that important populations of several species such as Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone occur around our shores outside of estuaries, and consequently are not monitored annually.  Following the original Winter Shorebird Count carried out in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07, the third repeat of NEWS will be carried out this coming winter.

How the survey works

The non-estuarine coastline is broken up into count sectors approximately 2km long, though some are shorter and some longer.  There are 10 priority sectors which have been selected at random in each region.  These priority sectors will be allocated first and then the others will be available for allocation.  The survey runs from 1st December 2015 to 31st January 2016 and just a single count is needed, with all birds and mammals using the sector recorded.

*** The recording period for the Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey has now ended ***

How to take part

  • The survey will be carried out in conjunction with the Wetland Bird Survey, so if you are an existing WeBS Counter who uses WeBS Online, the NEWS options to select sectors will automatically appear on your WeBS Data Home page. 
  • If you are not a WeBS Counter but you have taken part in one of the BTO's online surveys (BBS, Atlas, BirdTrack etc) then please visit Survey Home where you will find a NEWS bar in your list of available surveys.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to request your sectors and input your counts.
  • If you have not used WeBS Online before or do not have a BTO username you will need to register for an online username and password, then please visit Survey Home to see the NEWS bar.  Click on the word "Setup" to gain access to the online interface to be able to select your sectors and input your counts.
  • You can request any sector to count, though we do ask that if possible you choose one of the priority sectors.

Sample Count Form (PDF, 463.23 KB)

News Instructions (PDF, 902.56 KB)

- to be used in conjunction with the instruction on the NEWS count form.



How do I record seabirds on cliffs? - Seabirds (eg Fulmar, Shag, Kittiwake etc) using a cliff face or breeding ledges should be recorded as Intertidal rather than being on the land

What about birds on rocks out to sea? - Any area exposed at low tide that can be used by waders to forage should be thought of as intertidal, even if it is out to sea.

I can't cover all of my sector due to access problems - Please add your true start and end grid references to the Notes section when entering your data.


The NEWS online interface is now available.

I-WeBS logo

The Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey is supported by the Irish Wetland Bird Survey.

Video Tutorials for Volunteers

Video Tutorial for Regional Organisers