Millions of waterbirds shape the landscape of the Wadden Sea during migration. They have been a key aspect for the inscription of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site. Migratory waterbirds face a multitude of threats. During their migration these birds depend on a network of sites to rest and refuel their energy reserves. With climate change and other anthropogenic pressures, the optimal timing to find essential resources at these sites is threatened.
Each year in January, simultaneous waterbird counts are taking place all along the Flyway. The scale of these counts varies between years. Every three years total counts are taking place in all key sites frequently used by waterbirds from northern Europe to southern Africa. In between these years, counts focus on at least a subsample of these sites in most countries. In January 2022, the monitoring focused on a subsample of sites, including the Wadden Sea. During the January weekends, you will therefore often find dedicated ornithologists along the coastline of the East Atlantic Flyway, counting the waterbirds present in their specific area.
The local counts are a joint effort between national governments, national and international organizations and supported by thousands of volunteers. The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, BirdLife International and Wetlands International coordinate, and partly finance, the surveys and collate the data to analyse population trends of migratory waterbirds, while also providing assistance and training for local counts.