Would you like to count? Then join the 50th International Waterbird Census this month!

My father likes making long walks on Sunday morning. His favourite ‘flyway’ is along the dikes and through the wetlands of the river ‘Oude Ijssel’, in the Netherlands. Every year, around January my father meets someone, sitting on a folding chair he brought along, in camouflage colours. The man has a serious look on his face, a notebook in one hand, a pencil in the other hand, a pair of binoculars hanging around his neck. It seems he doesn’t want to be disturbed. Nevertheless my father starts chatting with this person. Returning home after his walk he tells us with some pride: “I’ve been counted again, as a very rare species in the International Waterbird Census!”.

What is the International Waterbird census? The census takes place every year in over 100 countries with the involvement of around 15,000 counters, most of whom are volunteers. Between 30 million and 40 million waterbirds are counted each year around the world, and details of the counts and the sites where they take place are held on the IWC database. The IWC is the most globally extensive and one of the longest running biodiversity monitoring programme in the World!