International Swan Census 2015


The next International Swan Census is due to take place in January 2015. Overall, the census is organised by the Wetlands International / IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group, whilst WWT coordinates the British, Irish and Icelandic surveys. The census, however, is organised in the Republic of Ireland by BirdWatch Ireland, the Irish Whooper Swan Study Group in Northern Ireland, by WWT in Britain and our colleagues Iceland manage the survey there.

The scheduled census dates in Britain and Ireland are 17/18 January 2015.

If you would like to get involved with the census, please contact your Local Organiser or the appropriate national organiser (see tabs below).

  • The census is scheduled for the weekend of 17/18 January 2015, the same as the priority dates for WeBS and I-WeBS. However, we understand that some counts may need to be made on different dates for a variety of reasons.  We ask counters to try to conduct any swan counts as close to the coordinated weekend as possible, although, all counts in January are welcomed and of value to this census.

    Although the principal information required is the number of Bewick’s and Whooper Swans present, we would also like to encourage counters to collect information on breeding success and habitat use, as this is valuable to our ongoing studies of these species. Please see the recording form for further details.

    Although WeBS and I-WeBS cover many sites, there are some that are best counted at different times, e.g. at roost at dawn or dusk. Also, many swans occur at sites not normally visited for the national schemes, such as agricultural fields and other non-wetland areas. Therefore, additional counting effort is required for this census in order to achieve complete coverage for all sites holding Bewick’s and/or Whooper Swans. We would, therefore, be extremely grateful for any extra assistance that can be provided in covering these sites.

    In those areas where birds are particularly mobile we ask that counters endeavour to coordinate the counts in order to minimise duplication by double-counting of birds at roost sites and nearby feeding areas.

    We would be grateful if all swan counts can be entered on to our online system at WWT Waterbird Monitoring Online. Counters will need to register to use the site. Paper forms are available from the national organisers for counters who do not have access to the internet, or the form can be downloaded here

  • National coordinator

    Colette Hall
    WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT
    T: 01453 891 261

    Information for Local Organisers and counters

    Coverage of sites in Britain

    Below is a list of sites in Britain that have previously held Bewick’s and Whooper Swans. The list was produced using WeBS data (Core Counts and supplementary data) from 2003/04 – 2012/13, for December, January and February only, and swan census counts from the 2005 and 2010 censuses. For each site, the peak count is given for each season. The list incorporates any roost and feeding areas distinct from roost and wetland areas covered by WeBS.

    The list is intended as a guide for Local Organisers and counters to help determine where coverage is needed for the census. However, it may not be a definitive list. There may be other areas which are not listed that are now known to hold swans. We would be very grateful if coverage can be found for any additional sites. If there are any additional sites [to those covered by WeBS] that may potentially no longer hold swans, it is still important for these sites to be visited, even if a zero count is recorded, as we can then be sure that everywhere we know of has been checked and we are not possibly missing birds.

    To Local Organisers: if it is not possible to provide coverage for all known sites, we would ask that you prioritise cover for those sites holding large numbers of swans. If full coverage in your area is proving difficult, particularly if major sites may not be counted, please contact the national organiser as soon as possible so that we can look into ways to overcome these gaps.

     Site list

    To open the table, select a WeBS region from the list. You can download the table by clicking on the ‘open in spreadsheet’ button. Note, if you are using Mozilla Firefox you will need to save the file first as the ‘open with’ option does not work correctly. A pdf version of the list, for each WeBS region separately, is available on request.

  • National coordinators

    Republic of Ireland
    Helen Boland
    BirdWatch Ireland, Unit 20, Block D, Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Greystones, Co. Wicklow
    T: 012 819878

    Northern Ireland
    Graham McElwaine
    Irish Whooper Swan Study Group, 100 Strangford Road, Downpatrick, Co. Down BT30 7JD