First results of 2020 flyway count published

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 in ann enormous operation: this year 12,000 volunteers and professionals contributed to it. This collaboration and simultaneous count are of upmost importance to gain insight into the trends of the various bird populations using the Flyway. The now published compilation of national reports gives a first overview of the bird numbers counted in 32 countries along the Flyway. The 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.

Strong Climate Effect

The count took place in January, at a time when there are relatively little migrations and movements of birds. 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 the 2020 Total Count will be further analysed and evaluated in an assessment report to be published by the end of 2021. The analysis 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.

Read the report here

Next to the organisations funding the national monitoring partners, the organisation and execution of the 2020 survey owas 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.