First results 2020 Flyway Count

Wednesday 16 December 2020

In January 2020 the third Total Count of the East Atlantic Flyway was organized. All waterbirds wintering along the coast from Norway till South Africa were counted. This Total Count is an enormous operation, this year 12,000 volunteers and professionals contributed to it. This collaboration and simultaneous count is of upmost importance to gain insight into the trends of the various bird populations using the Flyway. The now published basic report gives a first overview of the bird numbers counted in 32 countries along the Flyway. 

Strong Climate Effect

This Count took place in January, because there are relatively little migrations and movements of birds in this month. The information collected is essential to be able to monitor whether populations are increasing or decreasing, or for example displaced to other areas. The first results of last January’s census show a strong climate effect: it was very warm for the time of the year in many northern areas. Waters that are normally frozen were open last winter, which had a direct effect on the distribution of waterbirds as a consequence. The data of this Total Count will be further analyzed and assessed in an assessment report; the expected publication is end 2021. This analyses will give insight into how the different populations and species develop in relation to each other.

Insight into development of bird populations

The assessment of the first Total Count in 2014 indicated that birds breeding in the Wadden Sea area are doing worse compared to populations breeding elsewhere along the Flyway. This has led to the development of a framework for a breeding bird action plan, and the drafting of an action plan for the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea. The assessment of the count in 2017 indicated that waders breeding in the Arctic have a negative trend, especially the ones breeding at the Siberian tundra. This gives an indication that there is an effect of climate change, global warming in the Arctic goes much faster than in the Wadden Sea area.

transfer flyway monitoring commissioning

This was the last year that Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea (PRW) fulfilled the role of commissioner of the Flyway monitoring. This task is transferred to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. With that PRW’s project Flyway monitoring: securing and transferring is completed.

More Information

from Jonna van Ulzen, Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea,
E, T +31 (0)6 52 75 21 33

This census was organized by Sovon Vogelonderzoek in collaboration with the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, Wet­lands International and BirdLife International together with national authorities, organisations and institutions that are responsible for waterbird and wetland monitoring in their country.

Besides the organisations funding these national monitoring partners, the organisation and carrying out of the survey of January 2020 was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality through Programme Towards a Rich Wadden Sea and the Swiss foundation MAVA. Additional funding was received from the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Government and National Park Wadden Sea from Niedersachsen, Government and National Park Wadden Sea from Schleswig-Holstein, Ministry of Environment and Food Denmark, Vogelbescherming Nederland, the Wetland Bird Survey through the British Trust for Ornithology, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Tour du Valat.