Yetholm Online

Wetland Bird Surveys (WeBS)
This is the first of hopefully many more reports of the wetland bird counts which I conduct each year for the British Trust for Ornithology.

As an introduction, the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is a scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK, which aims to provide the principal data for the conservation of their populations and wetland habitats. Wetlands are regarded as one of the world's most threatened habitats (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, 2004).

The data collected are used to assess the size of waterbird populations, assess trends in numbers and distribution and identify and monitor important sites for waterbirds. A programme of research underpins these objectives. Continuing a tradition which began in 1947, with around 3000 volunteer counters participating in synchronised monthly counts at wetlands of all habitats, mainly during the winter period (October-March). It is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Joint Nature Conservancy Council (the JNCC represent the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England, Scottish natural Heritage and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency) in association with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

The sites I monitor in and around Yetholm are Yetholm Loch, Hoselaw Loch, Cherry Trees Pond, Pawston Lake and Romany Marsh. The sites vary in size with the largest being Yetholm/Hoselaw Loch and the smallest being Cherry tress Pond. Each site has different habitat characteristics.

As an example, Yetholm Loch has three broad habitats i.e. Open Water, Swamp Fen and Carr (wet Woodland) Community and Broadleaved Woodland. The general topography around the catchment area is of low-lying hills, which surround the valley basin. The loch forms part of a 26-hectare wildlife reserve, which the Scottish Wildlife Trust currently manages. In my role as a volunteer with SWT, I am the local convener at this site. Yetholm Loch was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1972. The loch is a naturally nutrient rich body of water, with the highest mean level of nitrates (1.95mg/l) of any loch in the Scottish Borders. (Jones, 1987) The water contains mineral salts derived from the surrounding catchment, which is predominantly farmland.

The species richness at the site is quite low, which is possibly related to the high nutrient load in the loch. Like most of the water bodies in lowland Britain, the loch is meso-eutrophic. The reserve is currently used for fishing, walking, bird watching (there is a hide located on the west bank of the loch) and occasional wildfowling.
Subsequent reports will summarise details of each future bird count.

For further information go to

Ro view Carl's latest figures click HERE.

To view the figures for 2012-13 click HERE.

For 2011-12 click HERE.

For 2010-11 click HERE .

For 2008-09 click - HERE .