This year will be the 28th season of the I-WeBS survey in Ireland. These surveys begin in September and will run until the end of March 2022. IWEBS surveys are carried out each year by a group of dedicated volunteers that record waterbirds at wetland sites across the country during the ‘non-breeding’ season.

Hundreds of thousands of migratory waterbirds overwinter in Ireland every year and rely on our wetlands for food and to rest. A lot of these birds spend the summer nesting in arctic regions (e.g., Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Siberia) and then fly south in the autumn as their breeding grounds freeze over. As wetlands are so important for their survival, these wild birds and the habitats they rely on are protected by national and EU legislation. I-WeBS therefore exists to keep track of how these birds are progressing on a yearly basis. With the knowledge gathered during I-WeBS surveys, informed conservation action can be taken to help protect these birds.

The types of wetlands surveyed every year range from wet grasslands to large more complex estuaries holding thousands of birds. For example, the Wexford Harbour and Slobs SPA regularly supports in excess of 20,000 waterbirds and is a site of international importance for Greenland white-fronted goose, mute swan, light bellied brent goose, bar-tailed godwit and black-tailed godwit.

Birdwatch Ireland has recently developed an online submission form for uploading data recorded in the field. This new process allows the team of scientific officers in Birdwatch to speed up the processing and validation of incoming data. It is hoped that this streamlining of data validation and loading processes will give the I-WeBS team more time to support data gathering in the field, data exploration and analysis and to help facilitate other national and international research.

If you would like to learn more about I-WeBS methods, waterbird identification or test your ID skills then follow the link below.

Birdwatch Ireland are always in need of new counters, so if you’d like to get involved to help monitor your local waterbirds, have a telescope and believe you have the skills to take part, please follow the link below.