Irish Wetland Bird Survey

Monitoring wintering waterbirds in Ireland


International Swan Census 2020

11th/12th January 2020

Each winter over 400 skilled volunteers, NPWS Rangers and BirdWatch Ireland staff monitor wintering waterbird populations at their wetland sites across the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS) is coordinated by BirdWatch Ireland and funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

What’s involved?

I-WeBS counters record waterbirds at wetland sites across the country during the winter ‘non-breeding’ season (September to March). The type of wetlands surveyed range from wet grasslands to large complex estuaries that hold thousands of birds, and everything in between. We’re always in need of new counters, so if you have a telescope and would like to get involved to help monitor your local waterbirds, see ‘Get involved in I-WeBS’ below.

Why do we count waterbirds?

Hundreds of thousands of migratory waterbirds spend the winter in Ireland, relying on our wetlands to feed and rest. Most of these birds spend the summer nesting in arctic regions (e.g. Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Siberia) but fly south in the autumn as their breeding grounds freeze over. As Irish wetlands are so important for their survival, these wild birds and the habitats they rely on are protected by national and EU legislation. And so, I-WeBS exists to keep track of how these birds are faring. With this knowledge, informed conservation action can be taken.

Species Trends

Population trends of waterbird species monitored through I-WeBS.

Site Summaries

Summary count data for wetland sites monitored through I-WeBS.

Data Requests

To request more detailed I-WeBS data please click here.

Scientific Research

Reports and studies at national and international scales, incorporating I-WeBS data.


I-WeBS Training Resources

Would you like to learn more about I-WeBS methods, or simply how to go about identifying waterbirds? Improve your waterbird surveying skills with these short courses (aimed at both beginners and existing participants). If you are just a beginner, why not try out the course to see if the survey would be a good fit for you!

Irish Wetland Bird Survey News

I-WeBSNewsSurveysSurveys and MonitoringSwans & GeeseWaterbirdsWetlands
February 10, 2021

Whooper Swan numbers in Ireland increase in new census results

A census carried out across the island of Ireland last year found that Whooper Swan numbers increased by 27%, while Bewick’s Swan look set to be lost from Ireland in…
mute-swan-with-coots-on-water-flying Birds of PreyI-WeBSInternationalMigrationNewsSurveysSurveys and MonitoringSwans & GeeseWaterbirdsWetlands
December 8, 2020

Cases of Avian Flu Detected in Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland are asking members of the public to report any dead or sick waterbird species they might find, so the birds can be tested for avian flu.   (This…

I-WeBS News 2021 (issue 25)

Issue 25 of ‘I-WeBS News’, the 2021 edition of the Irish Wetland Bird Survey newsletter. This issue features the usual Goose and Swan news, a ‘site focus’ on the habitat…

I-WeBS Summary Report 2016/17 & 2017/18

This report summarises the results of the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS) in the winters of 2016/17 and 2017/18, and provides an update on the status of wintering waterbirds and…

Post-breeding Tern aggregations in Ireland (Irish Birds 2020)

Peer-reviewed study on post-breeding tern flocks around the Irish coast.

I-WeBS News 2019

The newsletter for I-WeBS counters, published in August 2019 in advance of the 2019/20 I-WeBS season.

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I-WeBS Publication Archive