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.

National Species Trends

Population trends of waterbird species monitored through I-WeBS.

Species Trends by Site

Species trend data for individual wetland sites monitored through I-WeBS.

Site Peak Counts

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

lapwing-wading-with-reflection-on-water I-WeBSNewsWetlands
September 15, 2023

BirdWatch Ireland welcomes An Bord Pleanala decision on Boyne Greenway proposal

BirdWatch Ireland welcomes An Bord Pleanala’s decision to uphold the need to protect sites for threatened bird species by refusing to grant permission for a proposed new section of the…
I-WeBSMigrationNewsSurveysSurveys and MonitoringWaterbirds
April 13, 2022

New analysis charts fortunes of wintering waterbirds at a hundred Irish wetlands

  The fortunes of Ireland’s wintering waterbird species have been published for 97 lakes, rivers and coastal estuaries across Ireland. You can now see how different species of ducks, waders…

Greylag and Pink-footed Geese in Ireland 2017/18-19/20

An update of the status of wintering Greylag and Pink-footed Geese in Ireland.

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…

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