This report details how 36 species of wetland bird are faring in Ireland based on the data gathered by more than 1,100 surveyors that have contributed details of more than 81,000 site visits since the I-WeBS survey started in 1994. National Trends are provided as well as Site-Specific Trends for 97 sites.
Details of the analysis are described in the I-WeBS Trends Report Methodology document. The Underhill technique was used to impute missing counts where appropriate, seasonal counts were indexed to focus on relative changes in abundance, and Generalised Additive Models were employed to smooth these trends. Short, Medium and Long-Term Trends have been calculated and plotted for each species.
In mid-2021 BirdWatch Ireland, supported by the Heritage Council and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, commissioned Digital Nature to develop hotspot maps of farmland birds in Ireland. After extensive data gathering and data preparation phases, hotspot maps at both 10km and 1km resolution were successfully produced, based on scientifically validated records of threatened species of farmland bird in Ireland.
An introduction to the project has been published online by BirdWatch Ireland. It outlines how the various records in the datasets acquired were scored. Factors taken into account included:
the species observed and its conservation status
the season of the record (e.g. breeding season or winter season)
the typical range of that species for that season
any level of breeding evidence recorded
the age of the record (more recent records scoring higher)
As reported by BirdWatch Ireland in issue 103 of their WINGS magazine, the project has gathered an unprecedented 29 datasets containing over 2.5 million records of bird observations in Ireland. Extensive BirdWatch Ireland datasets have been supplemented with valuable data provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, the Heritage Council, the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Bord na Móna.
After filtering for twenty-seven species of interest more than 130,000 records remained. These were transformed into a consistent structure and format, and a scoring algorithm was carefully engineered and automated to construct the required maps.
Hotspot maps were generated taking all twenty-seven species of Farmland Bird into account. Hotspot maps were also generated for various subsets of these species, including Breeding Waders. All of these maps are being updated as more scientifically validated datasets become available, and as further refinements to the scoring algorithm and scoring parameters are developed.
It has been Digital Nature’s pleasure to work with the BirdWatch Ireland Policy and Advocacy Team on this suite of innovative maps. It is hoped that they will provide valuable insights informing the intensive efforts that are underway to try and secure the presence of these species in the Irish landscape for future generations.
The Countryside Bird Survey and Irish Wetland Bird Survey are national surveys that have been gathering important scientific data on bird populations in Ireland since the 1990s. Every year hundreds of professional and citizen scientists follow carefully designed survey protocols to gather data at hundreds of selected sites around the country. This valuable data allows trends in Irish bird populations to be established, and helps inform policy at national as well as European level.
Digital Nature is focusing on the IT aspects of these surveys, supporting the National Coordinators, Ecologists and Scientific Officers on the team with data capture, validation, loading, storage and analysis solutions. Some of these elements are introduced in the latest CBS newsletter published by BirdWatch Ireland.
Digital Nature is delighted to be playing a role in this important work.