Survey Opportunities

Wetland Bird Survey

The Wetland Bird Survey monitors the status of waterbirds in the UK. It is run by the BTO, RSPB, JNCC and WWT and is administered by the BTO. Waterbodies are counted once monthly on or near an appointed date. In Cumbria we have good coverage of sites with most coastal sections and major inland waters counted. However there are vacancies some of which are of higher priority than others. These are listed in the links below.

The ability to identify waterfowl and a telescope are all that is needed for the survey. Counting on the coast requires more experience as larger numbers of species, more birds and observations at greater distances are involved.

If you would like to help out, please check the BTO map by clicking on ‘Find a vacant site’.

WeBS counter needed for Cavendish Docks and Roosecote Sands

There is a vacancy for a keen person to cover Cavendish Docks and Roosecote Sands. One count per month on a Sunday – takes approx 2 hours over the high tide period. Telescope and ability to identify and count large numbers of waders and wildfowl required.

Please contact Mike Douglas (coordinator for Morecambe Bay North WeBS counts) for further information.

WeBS counter needed for Border & Calvo Marshes

We are looking for a WeBS counter to help out at Border and Calvo Marshes near Abbeytown. These are large marshes with a long walk where a knowledge of the geography of the marshes and the tides is essential to count safely. A few counts can be carried out alongside the existing counter to find the best way to count the section. The area holds good numbers of barnacle geese, wigeon, dunlin, curlew and a host of other waterbirds – a great day’s birding once a month and chance to contribute to an important survey, helping protect the UK’s most important bird sites.

Please contact Dave Blackledge, (coordinator for Inner Solway WeBS counts) for further information.

Previous surveys

Cumbria Rookery Survey: April 2022

The Cumbria Bird Club has undertaken two previous surveys of rookeries throughout the county in 1996 and 2013. The results of the last survey confirmed a significant decline in both the number of rookeries (-5.3%) and the number of apparently occupied nests (-39%) in Cumbria during the period between the two field-work years. The aim of the 2022 survey was to update the status of Rooks in the county, Identifying changes in their population and distribution.

Over 40 participants achieved complete coverage of all eighty 10 kilometre squares in the county which had recorded rookeries in the earlier surveys. A preliminary review of the results suggests that the decline of rookeries and particularly nests evident between 1996 and 2013 has slowed down considerably. A full report of the results of the project will be published later in the year.

Swifts survey 2021

CBC council is keen that this survey continues for another year. If you would like help please contact Dave Piercy.

The CBC Winter Wetland Survey (2019-20)

The CBC winter survey of freshwater bodies in Cumbria not monitored by the BTO Wetland bird survey begins in November 2019. Sites of interest have been identified in most ten kilometre squares in the county. However, further information about recently developed wetlands and regular floodwaters would be useful at this stage. The survey requires two visits to selected waters, one in early and the other in late winter to record the number of wetland birds present including wildfowl, crakes, waders and gulls.

Thank you to those of you who have already registered an interest in the project. Further information and recording forms will be distributed shortly and the regional co-ordinators will be in contact to suggest promising water bodies to visit in your area.  More fieldworkers are needed in all parts of the county to cover as many of the abundant wetland sites in Cumbria as possible. If you are able to take part, please contact us.  There are separate organisers for each of these four areas in Cumbria:

  • North Cumbria and Lower Vale of Eden
  • West Cumbria
  • North West Cumbria and Central Lakes
  • South Cumbria

Tawny owl surveys

CBC Council is keen to carry out surveys of the various owl species in Cumbria. Initially this will involve supporting the forthcoming BTO surveys of Tawny Owls.

They are running two types of survey:

  • A point survey visiting random tetrads, 2018-2020. A map of tetrads available can be found online. The first period is up until 15 October 2018.
  • A calling survey. This is a 20 minute survey that can be carried out from the comfort of your own home or pretty much anywhere else you can visit multiple times. Registration is now open and you can start recording from 30 September 2018. 
For full details visit:

Colour-marking scheme - Goldfinch

From an estimated population of just three pairs in 1990 there are currently around 35-40 pairs of Goldfinches breeding in private gardens amongst the urban area on the centre of the Walney Island. However, this does not appear to reflect the increasing number of birds that are recorded or trapped annually by the observatory, particularly during passage periods.

Between 2012 and 2015, Walney Bird Observatory has individually marked 1000 birds using the following ring sequence on the tarsus of the birds:-

  • Left leg - a BTO metal ring above a colour ring
  • Right leg- two colour rings

Colours used in the individual combinations are Red, Dark Blue, Yellow, Dark Green, Orange, Pale Blue, Black, White, Carmine and Violet.

Goldfinches are regular and increasing visitors to garden feeding stations throughout Britain making the likelihood of re-sightings greater. This is likely to include Cumbrian gardens therefore we would be grateful for notification, giving the full details of colour ring sequences, of any sightings to: -

Colour ringed Greylag and Canada geese sightings

As part of a long-term study to monitor feral geese, several hundred Canada and a smaller number of Greylag geese have been colour-ringed around Windermere. If anyone sees any colour-ringed Canadas or Greylags away from the public-feeding sites at Bowness-on-Windermere, could they please report them by email to or by post to Roy Armstrong, Habberley Cottage, Port Carlisle, Cumbria, CA7 5BU

NY4823 and NY4824

After many years of surveying David & Ros are unable to continue with these two BBS squares. If you would like to take them on or perhaps another BBS square near you. Just two visits required in spring every year. Contact one of the BTO reps .