Waterbird counts

Waterbird counts

BirdLife Cyprus has managed a programme to monitor wetland birds, since 1982, when Cyprus first contributed data to the International Waterbird Census. In recent years, this programme has consisted of monthly monitoring at a selection of important wetlands across the island. Species monitored include all birds linked to wetland habitats and not just waterfowl. These include birds of prey such as Marsh Harrier, as well as ducks, herons, grebes, rails, waders, cranes, pelicans, cormorants, flamingos, spoonbills, storks, ibises, gulls, terns and others. This is a permanent programme, and most of the field work is carried out by BirdLife Cyprus’s network of volunteers.

The data collected by this programme contribute to the worldwide International Waterbird Census, which takes place in mid-January each year, and which needs to be as comprehensive as possible in order to provide good estimates of total population sizes. The other main objectives of the programme include identifying sites that are important to each wetland bird species at different times of the year, and detecting trends in the numbers of birds wintering and breeding in Cyprus, at late-summer dry-season refuge sites, and on migration through the island. Key months for these purposes are January, March, May, September and November but many sites are surveyed in the intervening months too. Objectives also include detecting conservation issues, such as problems caused by development, agricultural chemicals, or changing hydrology.

Results so far have contributed to identifying Important Bird Areas, designating Special Protection Areas and designing other protection measures. The programme’s results have been used to contribute to management planning, such as at the Akrotiri Peninsula wetlands and Oroklini Marsh.

Additional contributors to this programme, as regular observers at selected sites, are always welcome. Please contact christina.ieronymidou@birdlifecyprus.org.cy if you are interested in taking part.

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