Waterways Breeding Birds Survey (WBBS)

Kingfisher by markkilner, on Flickr

Kingfisher by markkilner, on Flickr

Waterways Breeding Birds Survey (WBBS) started in 1998 as a pilot project. The relationship between WBS and WBBS has been similar to that between CBC and BBS. WBBS is quicker and simpler for volunteers, in that only three site visits are made between April and June, a total of around five hours’ fieldwork.

As in BBS, birds are recorded along transects but these are 500 metres long, rather than 200 metres, and they lie alongside a waterway rather than being in straight lines across a square plot. Identification of all birds both heard and seen is required but territories are not mapped. Another key difference is that, as in BBS, sites are allocated randomly rather than chosen by the volunteer. This is essential if modern statistical analysis methods are to be used successfully.

500-metre transects are used primarily because this matches the survey method used by the Environment Agency’s River Habitat Survey (RHS). The development of this wide-ranging habitat monitoring initiative by the Environment Agency and other stakeholders provided additional impetus for the BTO to develop the new WBBS. As well as monitoring bird populations more effectively, WBBS will provide data that can be more easily integrated with the RHS data for other kinds of wildlife and habitat parameters along waterways.

We have three survey sites in East Glamorgan.