The Wetland Bird Survey: as easy as 1, 2, 3

  1. Can you identify the UK’s commonest waterbirds?
  2. Do you have half a Sunday free, once a month, between September and March?
  3. Do you want to add value to your birding?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all three of those questions, then the BTO’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) could be just the thing you’re looking for. WeBS is the survey which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK, aiming to identify population sizes and determine trends in numbers and distribution of waterbirds.

We need more volunteers to join our local WeBS team to help count wetland birds in East Glamorgan. If you’re interested but not lucky enough to live in East Glamorgan (!), please visit

Wherever you live, the good news is that the survey is as easy as 1,2,3 . . .

  1. Turn up once a month on a specified date to your allotted wetland site
  2. Count the waterbirds you see there
  3. Submit your records to the BTO – either online or on paper forms 

You can find out more about the survey by visiting the East Glamorgan WeBS page which includes more information about our local wetland sites which currently need a volunteer counter.  If you find one that you’re interested in, or you know of a wetland site you’d like to cover which isn’t on the list, please get in touch.

The northern half of Talygarn Fish Pond
The northern half of Talygarn Lake

We’re looking in particular for somebody to count Talygarn Lake. At the risk of sounding like an estate agent, it is a very desirable WeBS site which has recently become available and which I’d recommend as an attractive proposition for any ‘first-time surveyor’. It is conveniently situated south of the M4 near Brynsadler. It is a large, shallow, man-made fish pond constructed I’d say around the late 19th/early 20th century. It’s an attractive location, surrounded by some lovely woodland, it also fringed with some reed.

Talygarn Lake attracts a nice variety of waterbirds such as Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck and Mallard as well as Little Grebe, Water Rail and Kingfisher. To add value to your visit the surrounding woodland is home to a nice variety of species, including Marsh Tit.

If you’re interested in taking on Talygarn (or any other site) for WeBS or , to continue the estate agent analogy,  you’d like me to accompany you for a ‘viewing’ first, please contact me for a no-obligation chat.

Dan Jenkins-Jones

East Glamorgan WeBS Local Organiser



East Glamorgan WeBS: September to November 2013 Update

We have a great team of WeBS counters in East Glamorgan – 35 of us in total counting birds at 32 different sites which vary in size from reens and farm pools to Cardiff Bay and the Rumney Estuary.  We go out to our own nominated patch of wetland once a month between September and March to count the waterbirds present and some, if not most of us, enjoy the survey so much that we also visit our sites during other months of the year too.

I’m pleased to say that three new members have started as WeBS counters within recent months. Richard Facey has taken on not only Sully Island in the Vale of Glamorgan but also Hendre Lake at St Mellons, and Rob Thomas has taken over from me at Llanishen & Lisvane Reservoirs. Before anybody asks, that doesn’t mean I’m now lazing about and taking my WeBS day off! The fact that Rob has taken over the reservoirs has enabled me to take on Roath Park Lake which recently became vacant . Neville Davies also re-joined the team in March, taking on Caerphilly Castle Moat – a WeBS site he once covered many years ago.


In September, 3 Water Rail were at Tir Founder Fields and 1 was back at East Aberthaw Lagoon, where the first 2 Snipe had also returned for the winter. A count of 21 Moorhen at Cors Crychydd Reen was impressive for such a small site and at Sully Island there were 46 Oystercatcher, 22 Turnstone, 4 Ringed Plover and singles of both Curlew and Dunlin – a decent assortment of waders by East Glamorgan standards!

Water Rail - always a good find on a WeBS count (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)
Water Rail – always a good find on a WeBS count (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Another area that can turn up a decent haul of waders is Ogmore Estuary. But the highlight there in October was a count of 108 Common Gull – the highest ever WeBS count at the site, beating the previous high of 45 set in February 1996. Gulls are optional for WeBS by the way – you don’t have to count them.

Shoveler is relatively scarce in the recording area and it’s always nice when one or two turn up on your WeBS count. There were 2 at the Wilderness Pond, Porthcawl in September and another 2 (or possibly the same pair?) turned up at nearby Pwll-y-Waun Pond in October. Single birds also turned up at Parc Tredelerch in October and at Parc Slip’s North Wetland in November.

Things started to pick up a bit in November. A Green Sandpiper was at Lisvane Reservoir – the first to be recorded there during a WeBS count. ‘Next door’ in the Llanishen Reservoir basin there were 42 Snipe and 32 Teal – both the highest ever WeBS counts at the reservoir. A count of 117 Mallard at Glamorgan Canal, Whitchurch was also the highest ever WeBS count at this site and not far behind the 131 highest ever for the canal. Water levels at Roath Park Lake have been very low lately to allow dredging of the site. This may account for the high number of Coot there – 204 in November, which is the joint 6th best WeBS count for the site in 12 years of recording there.

Common Gull - a new record at Ogmore Est (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)
Common Gull – a new record at Ogmore Est (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Numbers of wildfowl on the whole start to build up in September>November. This was certainly the case at East Aberthaw Quarry Pool where there were 35 Wigeon, 22 Mallard, 20 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck and 1 Pochard in November.  At Caerphilly Castle Moat on the other hand numbers of Canada Geese appear to be down slightly during this period, compared to previous years.

And finally, it’s good to see Dipper restored as a regular sight on our South Wales rivers and the species was ever present during this period on WeBS counts on the River Taff between Radyr Weir and Llandaff North and at Taf Bargoed Lakes.

Do you fancy joining the team?

If you’ve always felt that you’d like to make a practical contribution to our knowledge of birds but didn’t know how, then taking part in WeBS is an excellent place to start. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ birder to become a WeBS counter. We’ll help you find a site to match your ID skills level which means that anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching.

I’ve recently added some new sites in the area to the East Glamorgan WeBS page. Have a look to see whether there are any near you. No wetland is too small, so if you know of one which isn’t on the list please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

East Glamorgan WeBS: June 2013 Summary

The Core Count Period for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is September through to March. But, I’m delighted to say that most of our volunteer WeBS counters in East Glamorgan clearly enjoy taking part in this survey so much that they continue to visit their sites during the rest of the year too!

Naturally, the Spring and Summer months are a quieter time in terms of the number of wetland birds recorded, but there’s always something to see and all data are a valuable contribution to this important survey.

WeBS is about counting, once a month, the numbers of wetland birds present at a site. Counters aren’t specifically asked to record breeding evidence. However, many do add notes on breeding birds seen during each count.

Michaelstone-le-pit Salmon Leaps (Photo: DJJ)
Michaelstone-le-pit Salmon Leaps (Photo: DJJ)

June Highlight

The highlight of the June WeBS counts in East Glamorgan was undoubtedly the breeding record of Tufted Duck at Michaleston-le-Pit Salmon Leaps (Mike & Chris Dunn).  On average, we only have breeding records from 3 or 4 sites a year in our recording area.

Other breeding records

The following species were recorded breeding at the following locations:

  • Canada Goose: Caerphilly Castle Moat; Kenfig NNR; Parc Slip.
  • Coot: Caerphilly Castle Moat; Clydach Vale CP; Cors Crychydd Reen; Parc Slip.
  • Great Crested Grebe: Caerphilly Castle Moat.
  • Mallard: Caerphilly Castle Moat: Clydach Vale CP; Cors Crychydd Reen; Lisvane reservoir; Michalestone-le-Pit Salmon Leaps; Parc Slip.
  • Moorhen: Cors Crychydd Reen.
  • Mute Swan: Caerphilly Castle Moat; Cors Crychydd Reen.
  • Grey Wagtail: Caerphilly Castle Moat.
Curlews back on the coast - Autumn's on its way. (Photo; Jeff Slocombe)
Curlews back on the coast – Autumn’s on its way. (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Other highlights

Dippers were recorded at both Taf Bargoed Lakes and on the River Taff between Radyr Weir and Llandaff. A Mediterranean Gull was at Ogmore Estuary, where there was a whiff of Autumn in the air with the return of both Curlew & Redshank. 2 male Pochard recorded at Lisvane Reservoir also suggests that ‘Summer’ is over – did it really begin?!

Many thanks to all our WeBS counters for contributing to the survey. Your efforts are really appreciated. If you’re new to bird surveying WeBS is an excellent place to start. Please get in touch if you’d like to volunteer or for a no-obligation chat.

If Your New Year’s Resolution Was to Add Value to Your Birding . . .

For the past 14 years Caerphilly Castle Moat has been counted for the Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS) by one counter – Marie Makepeace. During that period, the vast majority of the wildfowl data for this site that you may have seen tabulated in the annual Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report have come from  Marie’s counts.

That’s a tremendous effort for one person. But, sadly, Marie has informed me today that she intends to stand down as the WeBS counter for this site. There aren’t many WeBS counters who have given such long service and I’d like to thank Marie for her dedication and for her invaluable contribution to this survey, and to the gathering of local bird data.

Caerphilly Castle Moat
Caerphilly Castle Moat

This means of course that a vacancy has arisen as a WeBS counter at Caerphilly Castle Moat. Would you like to take it on? If you’ve never done a bird survey before, WeBS is a great place to start.  It’s the survey that monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK and all you need is the ability to identify common waterbirds and to count the birds at your nominated wetland site once a month between September and March (and, although optional, any additional months between April and August too if you can make them).

You can find out more about the WeBS survey locally and some more detail about how to do the survey.

If your New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to add value to your birding this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.  If you’re interested in taking on Caerphilly Castle Moat for WeBS, or if you know of another wetland site which you may be interested in monitoring, please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
t: 029 20 621394