We undertake a range of surveys that rely on volunteer surveyors, from roost counts to undertaking age assessments of goose flocks to reading colour-rings.
Icelandic-breeding Goose Census (IGC)
- The IGC monitors the population size and breeding success of the Iceland Greylag Goose and the Greenland/Iceland Pink-footed Goose populations.
- The census takes place annually, with one count in each of October and November on pre-determined dates. A coordinated spring count also takes place every three years.
- Surveys take place at dawn, dusk or during the day depending on the site. Counts can take a few hours to complete.
- Counters must feel confident in identifying Greylag and Pink-footed Geese, and have reasonable experience of counting birds.
- Surveys are undertaken at sites in Britain and Ireland.
- The survey is coordinated overall by WWT
International Swan Census (ISC)
- In Britain and Ireland, the ISC monitors numbers and breeding success of Whooper and Bewick’s Swans.
- The census is five-yearly, and comprises one count in January on pre-determined dates.
- Surveys take place during the day at most sites. Counts may take a few hours to complete depending on flock size.
- Counters must feel confident in identifying Whooper and Bewick’s Swans, and have some experience of counting birds. Some knowledge of how to age birds is also desirable but not essential.
- The surveys are coordinated by WWT, in association with BirdWatch Ireland/I-WeBS, and the Irish Whooper Swan Study Group.
- The census in Britain and Ireland is coordinated with surveys carried out elsewhere in Europe in order to cover three migratory swan populations: the Icelandic Whooper Swan, the Northwest Mainland Europe Whooper Swan and the Northwest European Bewick’s Swan.
- The next census is due to take place in 2025.
National goose and swan age assessments
- Age assessments are undertaken to determine the annual reproductive success of each goose and swan population. The assessments comprise of two measures: the proportion of young (first-winter) birds and the mean brood size.
- Assessments are made annually. The months during which assessments are made vary between species, although most take place during autumn and winter.
- The skill level required varies between species. Counters must feel confident in identifying and aging the particular species(s) and have reasonable experience counting birds.
- The assessments are coordinated by various organisations depending on the species/population.
Greenland White-fronted Goose Census
- The census monitors the population size and breeding success of the Greenland White-fronted Goose.
- The census takes place annually, with one priority count taking place in autumn and one in spring on pre-determined dates. Monthly counts also take place at some sites.
- Counters must feel confident in identifying Greenland White-fronted Geese and have some experience of counting birds. Some knowledge of aging geese may be required, though it is not essential.
- The survey is organised by the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study
Looking for colour-marked birds
- There are a number of projects that involve the capture and marking of geese and swans with coloured leg rings and/or neck collars. Such projects provide information to researchers on the life of individual birds, such as their migration strategies.
- Sightings of colour-marked birds can be provided at any time of year.
- No particular skill is required. Observers report the species, the colour of the ring, the code engraved on the ring, and the ring’s position on the bird (e.g. left leg).
- Observers will likely require binoculars or a telescope to clearly see the bird(s) and the colour-mark.