EuroBirdwatch, which took place this year on the 2nd and 3rd of October, started in 1993 as a spinoff of the World Birdwatch founded in the same year. All across Europe volunteers gather to track bird migration. The aim of the event is to understand the absolute and relative number of birds making use of different national and international autumn migration routes. By collecting these data in the same standardized way for almost 30 years now, these data help us to gain insight into which birds are achieving greater or lesser success in their migration across Europe.

As a secondary purpose, however, EuroBirdwatch also functions as an ‘open day’ for many bird groups involved in migration counts; these migration counts take place all across autumn, and EuroBirdwatch is an opportunity for interested individuals and families to experience bird migration and birding, and can perhaps even function as an entry point for becoming a birder.

For these reasons, the event is highly relevant for EnviroCitizen, so it is no surprise that several of our fieldworkers joined in for the event. Below, we give a quick window into some of our experiences.

Fieldwork Flash – Netherlands by Wessel Ganzevoort, Radboud University

The Netherlands is an important country for bird migration, and in 2021 three birds stood out in terms of numbers: Common starling, Meadow pipit, and Common chaffinch. When I joined on Saturday we indeed encountered many of these birds, as well as others like the Eurasian jay, many geese and cormorants. And of course some exciting rarer finds like the great egret and a common buzzard.

My counting location was located along a river in the centre of the country. A group of around 10 birders, both highly experienced and beginners, gathered in the morning. Counting lasted to about 13:00; all throughout the morning some people left and others joined up, making for a low-threshold experience. Another factor that helped things along was the perfect weather: no rain, a soft breeze, some clouds and pleasant temperature. Fog and rain would not only make the birds difficult to observe, it would also make it unlikely that people would pop by.

As a beginning birder, EuroBirdWatch was a nice opportunity to test out my new binoculars, which offer a whole new way of experiencing passing birds. Of course, they were no match for the impressive scopes wielded by the experienced birders. For a beginner, you sometimes are left desperately trying to spot a distant bird that only a scope detects.

Fieldwork Flash – Sweden by Elin Lundquist, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

uring the EuroBirdwatch weekend there were activities at at least 40 places around the country. They were aimed at the public and organized by regional ornithological associations and local bird clubs. I joined one of several events in the Stockholm area and went to an observation platform in a suburb of Stockholm with a view over a lake. It was a quite chilly and windy autumn day. Present at the platform was a guide from a local bird club; an experienced birdwatcher who lives close by and counts migrating birds at the location regularly. Besides me, there were two other participants that identified themselves as beginners.

The guide generously shared his knowledge of birds and of the area and got engaged questions from the participants. The guide indicated early on that it would probably be a quite calm day birdwise. Altogether we noticed almost 40 different species until the count ended at around 11:00.

In Sweden as a whole Chaffinch was the most commonly reported species during the weekend. BirdLife Sweden summarized EuroBirdwatch 2021 by stating that there were quite high numbers of migratory birds noted in the country. However, there were not as many birds on the move as during those years when the counts have coincided with the peak days of the geese migration. Here is a link to the complete result of EuroBirdwatch in Sweden:

Fieldwork Flash – Estonia by Elle-Mari Talivee, Estonian Academy of Sciences

EuroBirdwatch in Estonia was a success: observers spotted 270,684 birds of at least 156 species; common chaffinches, common wood pigeons, Eurasian siskins, European starlings and greater scaups were seen most.

As BirdLife Estonia and the organisation of Estonian birders called Estbirding jointly offered birdwatching in groups with instructors in several places all over Estonia, there was the possibility to watch seabirds in the northernmost land point of Estonia, the Purekkari cape, on Sunday morning. The weather was fine: although cold, it was sunny. The stony cape stretches quite far into the Gulf of Finland. I stood for about an hour in the middle of migrating brent geese, with long-tailed ducks and loons passing on the horizon. There were four of us at that time, together with the instructor. I had just missed an otter who had slept lazily on a stone in the sea, and a short-eared owl, and made a silent promise to myself to learn from this experience and wake up earlier in the future.

Walking away from the beach through the pine forest, suddenly a flock of long-tailed tits surrounded us. Their high-pitched pit is an easy characteristic to identify this species by. These lovely birds with white heads, black eyes and long tails are calling each other to keep the flock together, and if a bird becomes separated from the group, they call louder. The cherry on the cake, to meet such a cute fellowship

Fieldwork Flash – Romania by Ágota Ábrán, New Europe College

The Romanian Ornithology Society organised a birdwatching marathon with the Marine Biology Station in Agigea for EuroBirdwatch. The station houses the Agigea Ringing Station for Migration Studies, which seems to cluster together as volunteers many bird lovers from across the country. It is located near the Black Sea beach of Agigea village, next to the county capital Constanța. As our team of four adults and a child arrived on the evening of the 1st of October, we found people amicably chatting outside amongst comfortable looking garden chairs. The organizers drew a competition perimeter, which went as a thin strip 12 kilometres to the south, included the Lake Techirghiol, and a wider strip to the north for about 70 kilometres, including a tiny part of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve.

Fortunately, two of my teammates were more experienced and prepared in both birdwatching and knowledge of the area. We set forth at 7 AM on the 2nd with a camera, three binoculars and a scope by car and drove to the south and then north, often stopping at known birdwatching spots. The species with the most individual counts of the marathon were starlings, black-headed gulls and mallards[6]. We also saw many waders that I could differentiate only after long explanations and checking in the bird guide. By the end of the day, we saw some exciting places and counted 71 bird species; among them we got a glimpse of the flamingos, which were all over the news this year.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872557.