If you are not very experienced and want to start off with a straightforward survey, then the WeBS survey is the one I would recommend. You only have to be able to identify waterbirds (gulls and terns being optional).
The Time of Year for the survey
The survey only has to be carried out between September and March although, if you can also do it over the spring/summer period as well, that is even better. You do not need to belong to the BTO in order to participate in this survey.
What the survey involves
The survey is incredibly straightforward. You go to the site and count all the waterbirds that you see. I also count all the other species and enter them (plus the waterbirds) into Birdtrack too but this is entirely optional. Here is a link to the paper form you could complete for the WeBS survey Count Form showing the information you need to collect. The on-screen form is very similar (see below).
If you have access to the internet you can fill in the results of the survey directly into the BTO website and it is very simple to do so.
When do you do it?
The survey is done once a month on a set Sunday morning (although if you cannot do it on that day you are asked to do it on the closest day possible). There are lots of sites which need surveying for WeBS and they vary from a small lake to a stretch of the River Thames.
More information on the survey
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is the scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims of WeBS are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and identify important sites for waterbirds.
WeBS is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (the latter on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage), in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
What skills are required?
Anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching. Unlike many bird surveys, to carry out WeBS Counts, you do not have to know bird songs or calls, just have the ability to identify common waterbirds.
Where are the survey sites?
A WeBS site can be any wetland area, be it an estuary, lake or reservoir to a river, stream or even your local village duck pond. Many of the larger sites are regularly counted, but I have available vacant sites so, if you are interested, click on the link below in order to look at the list of vacant sites (there is a separate list of the covered sites so you can see which ones are already covered)
Link to vacant WeBS sites Covered WeBS Sites
Remember even counts from small waterbodies are important even if the site only seems to support the more common birds such as Mallard, Moorhen and Coot.
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in helping with the survey or would like more information please do contact me