Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative: Bird counting from Wadden Sea to South Africa

Photo: Vogelbescherming Nederland

Ready to start!
In January 2014, after eight years and more than one year of preparation the first full count of shore birds between the Wadden Sea and South Africa will take place in the framework of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative. The census will provide an up-to-date overview about the condition of this long - distance migrants, their favorite wintering spots and information on bottlenecks. The results of the counts and data on related habitats are urgently needed for conservation and management reasons.

Preparation 'Total Count 2014'
Especially in West Africa, organizing the coordinated counting was complex and many obstacles had to be removed. Counters needed to be trained and essential tools such as binoculars, telescopes and field guides needed to be completed. Now in each country teams of counters are ready. The count areas have been identified and the necessary permits are obtained. Many areas are hardly accessible, so that boats need to be hired. Because counting the vast African mud flats requires a great effort, the national teams in several countries will be joined by experienced counters from the Wadden Sea Area.

Marc van Roomen from Sovon Vogelonderzoek in the Netherlands is the overall coordinator of the count in January. "At the end of December at a workshop in Senegal, we put the finishing touches to the ambitious project. In operations like this you cannot arrange everything in advance, but I think we are fully prepared to make this count a successful one. Everybody is very motivated." The preparation of this total count lasted eighteen months.

Collage: Vogelbescherming Nederland

Better research
The count in January fits into the new strategy for a better monitoring of shorebirds. Marc van Roomen : "Every six years we want to organize a complete and in the intervening years counts only on selected sites. In that way we will be able to closely follow every development.”

The total count from the Wadden Sea to South Africa is possible thanks to the collaboration of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation with Vogelbescherming Nederland and BirdLife International. The Flyway Initiative was set up in the beginning of 2012, when the Wadden Sea was designated as World Heritage Site. The Dutch "Program for a Rich Wadden Sea” has helped set up the count in West Africa.

More information on the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative.