Co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors waterbirds throughout the UK. Carried out on the same day once a month right across the UK, these counts allow the BTO to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution of particular species and to identify important sites for waterbirds.
Here at Montrose we carry out our WeBS counts with the help of a dedicated team of volunteer surveyors. Meeting at the Visitor Centre a couple of hours before high tide, the team have a quick cup of tea or coffee before being allocated one of six areas of the reserve where they will carry out their count.
Heading out onto the reserve, we count all the waterbirds which can be seen in our particular section, this includes species such as waders, ducks, geese, swans, gulls and terns. The counts on the Basin are carried out as the tide is rising, which concentrates the waders and most of the wildfowl close to the shore, making it much easier to count and ensuring we get a more accurate figure. Counters are also in communication with each other via radios and mobile phones to ensure no double counting occurs as this would skew our results.
We carried out our latest monthly count at the weekend in absolutely glorious sunshine and calm conditions, perfect for conducting our survey and although it is our quiet time of year in terms of the overall number of birds and diversity of species on the reserve, you can see from the results below we still recorded almost 3500 birds.
Peak counts for waterbirds at Montrose Basin occur during the autumn in September and October when we have counted more than twenty times this month’s figure, with over 75,000 individual birds recorded on the reserve.
Species of the day was a pochard which was seen on the River South Esk at the western end of the reserve, and although it isn’t a rarity, it is an unusual sighting for the Basin as they usually prefer the freshwater lochs inland.
A summary of this month’s WeBS count is below. Click on the table for a larger view.
If you would like to find out more about WeBS in your area, you can visit the BTO website by clicking here.
Adam – Montrose Basin Ranger