Seabirds Count

A census of breeding seabirds has been organised in the UK and Ireland approximately every 15 years since 1969-70; the latest being Seabird 2000. After a ‘soft start’, the current census is now running until the breeding season of 2019, under the title Seabirds Count.

The current census is being led by JNCC (the Joint Nature Conservation Committee) on behalf of the Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) partners and aims to count all breeding seabirds in the UK and Ireland. This includes 25 species of auks, gulls, terns, Gannet, Fulmar, petrels, shearwaters, Shag and Cormorant, and will allow new population estimates to be generated and assessments of change over time to be made.

Count sectors for the current census are as defined in the previous census, Seabird 2000. The interactive map below shows all of the sectors defined for Cornwall, along with the survey method used previously (click on a marker to see details for each sector). We are now looking for volunteers to help cover some of the sections that have currently not been visited. Many of these require counts from the sea, as breeding areas are not visible from land, but we will have very generous help from boat operators to cover some of these: AK Wildlife Cruises, Mermaid Pleasure Trips and Atlantic Diver. However, there are many others that can be visited simply by scanning the coastline from an appropriate viewpoint, marked accordingly on the map. Survey methods are defined in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook.

If you are interested in helping to cover any of these sectors from land, please get in touch with the Society at and we can advise further on methods. Sectors should be surveyed between late May and early June, but we can advise further on timings.

Later in the year we may also be advertising spaces on survey boats covering further areas of the coast, with a small charge helping to cover some of the costs to the boat companies. These will be great opportunities to get out and see seabirds from a different perspective, so we’ll advertise these as and when we set survey dates.