New Wetland Bird Survey Report: East Glamorgan’s contribution

Last week, BTO published the latest Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) Report. Covering 2018-19, it is, as usual, full of fascinating information and is well worth a read.

Each ‘WeBS year’ runs from July to June – and it couldn’t have been produced without the amazing dedication of 3,290 volunteers who visited 2,846 wetlands across the UK. The team of WeBS volunteers in our East Glamorgan region (which currently has 50 members), submitted a combined total of 3,257 records of 59 species of waterbirds, gulls, terns and domestic/hybrid wildfowl and a total count of 72,480 birds. Incredible totals and we’d like to say a huge ‘diolch/thank you’ to each and every one of them.

Once a month, a network of volunteers goes out to wetlands and coastal areas across the length and breadth of the country to count the waterbirds present for this long-running survey. Data have been collected for over 70 years, providing vital information on which sites are the most important for waterbirds, leading to their designation as protected sites. WeBS counts also capture notable changes in the numbers of waterbirds present, flagging-up issues that may require further investigation.

On a positive note, this latest WeBS Report shows that Shelduck had its strongest winter since 2010-11. Declining species, such as Pochard and Goldeneye, fared slightly better in 2018-19, although remain down by more than 35% in terms of the 25-year trend. The introduced Mandarin Duck was again noted at record levels, while Gadwall was at its second-highest level.

The report however, also shows that more than a third of the waterbird species that use our most important and protected wetlands have declined by 25% or more. Some of these declines are because of large-scale changes in global waterbird distributions due to climate change e.g. we may be seeing lower numbers of wintering birds in Great Britain & Northern Ireland as they are able to spend more of the period closer to their breeding grounds, with mild conditions on the Continent. Other changes may be due to local problems at individual sites.

Here are some figures from the counts made in our region . . .

SpeciesCombined total of recordsCombined total of counts
1Mallard40812,886
2Moorhen3241,947
3Coot2618,376
4Mute Swan2253,273
5Canada Goose1925,180
6Grey Heron166274
7Lesser Black-backed Gull1553,561
8Cormorant1531,023
=9Black-headed Gull13010,589
=9Herring Gull1303,319
WeBS: top 10 most commonly recorded species in East Glamorgan 2018-19

Unsurprisingly, Mallard was the species most commonly recorded across East Glamorgan and, although the counting of gulls is optional for the survey, our WeBS counters still recorded a five figure count of Black-headed Gulls and four figure counts of Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls.

Top of our local WeBS charts: Mallard (Photo: BTO – Richard Jackson)

Amongst the scarcer or more unusual birds to be recorded during the 2018-19 WeBS year in our region were Pink-footed Goose, Black Swan, Mandarin and Wood Duck, Slavonian and Black-necked grebes, Little and Yellow-legged gulls, Little Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Arctic Tern and Great White Egret.

WeBS is a great survey to undertake if you’re new to bird surveying. If you’re interested in taking part in 2020, please have a look at our East Glamorgan WeBS page, and feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

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