Monday, 27 January 2020

WeBS Training

We had a great time on Thursday at Budle Bay (the southern gateway to Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve) training volunteers in the art of WeBS counting.

Introduction to WeBS  (Flora Blackett)

For those of you who might be scratching your head thinking- WeBS?? It stands for Wetland Bird Survey and is designed to monitor the UK's internationally important non-breeding waterbirds. Run with partners BTO (British Trust of Ornithology), RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) and WWT (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust) it is a longstanding survey that started in 1947. The idea is that wetland sites are counted once a month, providing data for population and trends in both abundance and distribution. "Waterbirds" includes wildfowl such as ducks, geese and swans, additionally waders, rails, divers, grebes, cormorants and herons. Terns and gulls can also be optionally included. This is data collected across the country by volunteers and has created an enormous data set, spanning generations of birds. The data is then used for conservation management purposes such as to set boundaries for reserves, help assess how well, year by year, the birds are travelling, which public footpaths to use at what time of year to best leave wildlife undisturbed.

Learning to count large numbers of birds (Flora Blackett) 

Here at Lindisfarne, we have been running WeBS counts for many years. Our Reserve is split into seven different sections for the counts as it is such a big area- with some birds species being counted well into the 1000s (sometimes 10,000s) of individuals. Big numbers to keep track of- but a lot of fun!

Big numbers of Light-bellied Brent Geese lifting from Budle Bay (Flora Blackett)

Coast Care Volunteers have decided to join in with WeBS and are going to start tackling the area around Embleton. As these surveys require consistent repetition, we were happy to step in and give as many volunteers as would like to learn, a proper introduction to this great British tradition. We were joined by about 20 volunteers down at Budle Bay, with bird identifying skills ranging from those that know very few wetland birds all the way up to those that have been amateur bird watching for years. To get involved you don’t need to be a brilliant bird spotter, as you can learn from those that have more experience, all you need is a good sense of fun and a passion to see wildlife in the wild. A good pair of binoculars and a bird ID book is also a pretty good help too!



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