Bird Ecology

  1. Long-term monitoring the abundance of breeding birds
  2. A count of waterbirds washed ashore and
  3. A count of Midwinter waterbirds.

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Programme details

BSP Bird Ecology homepage:

In the spring of 1992 we called up schools around the Baltic Sea to participate in the Baltic Sea Project and also to take part in the waterbird studies in the region. We recommended the following bird watching programmes:

  1. Spring and midwinter water bird counts
  2. Counts on water birds washed ashore
  3. Point counts on breeding birds

Ad 1: Spring and midwinter water bird counts

Now I can conclude that the midwinter water bird counts became more popular than other programmes. For example in the winter of 1997 the midwinter water bird counts were carried out on the coast of the Baltic Sea as well as on inland waterways of four countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, and Lithuania.

Nine schools participated and 24 species of birds were recorded in 29 sites (19 coastal, and 10 inland):
Denmark: 4 coastal sites
Estonia: 13 coastal sites, 8 inland sites
Finland: 1 coastal and 1 inland site
Lithuania: 1 coastal and 1 inland site

I would like to express my great thanks to all the participants from Gedser Naturskole, Rungsted Gymnasium, Rødekro skole and Amtsgymnasiet i Sønderborg (Denmark), Kotka and Meri-Pori (Finland), Klaipeda (Lithuania) and Tallinn Lillekyla and Liiganuse Keskkool (Estonia)

Ad 2: Counts on water birds washed ashore

The experience of Tallinn Lillekula High School shows that the counts of water birds washed ashore can be joined with the coastal observation project - coast watch.

With the help of students we could get a good overview of the pollution sources of the coast of Tallinn Bay: Plastic bottles, aluminium cans and plastic carrier bags!

The counts of birds washed ashore on the Tallinn Bay Coast resulted in 2-3 birds found dead per each 500 m on the average.

Ad 3: Point counts on breeding birds

Point counts of breeding birds requires very good knowledge on species detection. The timing of the filed work falls into the period of summer holidays which might be the reason why schools have not been active in this programme.

Twice special bird observation days have been organised: llth - l4th of January 1996 and April l8th - 2lst 1996 in Estonia in order to:

  • build up a common network for water bird studies on the coasts of the Baltic Sea
  • get some practical experience in water bird field work
  • support Estonian students in studying nature on the coasts of the Gulf of Finland and West Estonia.

The best practical results were achieved during the April survey. The participants could pay a visit to the Matsalu Nature Reserve, a wetland area of international importance - a Ramsar site and an IBA site.

Conclusion: I regard it very important to continue the water bird surveys as they have become very popular and because they are relatively easy to organise.

The respective methods for studying water birds are available from me or from your national co-ordinator.

Additional Materials

Spring birds counting protocol: .PDF (70,5kB)

BSP Bird Guide - on-line

BSP Bird Guide - compressed presentation (zip file) - 7,4 Mb


Connection to UN- Global Sustainable Development Goal no 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss