Wetland bird survey delivered to monitor River Irwell environment

Volunteers from across Greater Manchester took part in training for the first ever River Irwell Wetland Bird Blitz during the weekend of 17th & 18th December 2016. The volunteers are now able to participate in a one-day survey which takes place during January 2017. Irwell-Bird-Survey-Volunteers

The one-day survey will run along similar lines to the monthly Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) which is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the RSPB. The results of the Irwell survey will be fed into the national WeBS data base and the local volunteers will be encouraged to take part in the larger national survey.

The survey will focus on the catchment of the River Irwell in Greater Manchester and will help ecologists to understand changes in bird behaviour and population numbers.  January’s survey will bring together experienced bird surveyors alongside volunteers from earlier ecological surveys.

This survey is led by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) and is an important part of Natural Course, a 10 year initiative to improve the water environment of North West England supported by the EU LIFE programme. This participative approach will help project partners to understand the ecology and environment of the River Irwell and plan activities for the future.

Mike Beard, GMEU’s Natural Course project officer, said: “There are important relationships between birds and ecosystems; changes in bird populations can tell a story about the overall health of the natural environment. We had a fantastic time training with the volunteers and we are really looking forward to going out onto Manchester’s Irwell River in January. The Winter Wetland Bird Blitz demonstrates the valuable role that volunteers play in gathering information and data about wildlife in an urban environment”.