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Seabird Monitoring Programme

14 May 2020: Update on the effect of COVID-19 situation on Seabirds Count and Seabird Monitoring Programme survey work.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Seabirds Count and Seabird Monitoring Programme survey work is partially suspended. Volunteers can only complete survey work if they are following all government guidance in their geographic region regarding outdoor activities, and are maintaining social distancing and appropriate health and safety procedures at all times.

From 13 May, easing of some restrictions in England means that volunteer survey work can now be completed, including the survey of breeding survey sites, as long as advice from government is adhered to. For all other UK geographic regions, survey work remains suspended and these restrictions are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the final survey year for the Seabirds Count census will be 2021. Please only complete breeding seabird surveys in England if you feel comfortable doing so and can do so safely. Please be respectful of any ongoing access restrictions put in place by land owners, including car-park closures.


The Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) is an ongoing annual monitoring programme, established in 1986, of 25 species of seabird that breed regularly in Britain and Ireland. This programme is a partnership of 19 organisations and is co-ordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). It aims to ensure that sample data on breeding numbers and breeding success of seabirds are collected, both regionally and nationally, to enable their conservation status to be assessed.

Along with annual monitoring, the SMP is also supplemented by periodic censuses, which aim to provide counts for all sites in Britain and Ireland. Seabirds Count 2015–2020 is the 4th national census.

SMP Results & Data

Seabirds are good indicators of the health of the marine environment and SMP data are used to create indicators at regional and international scales, which help inform marine policy and regulation. Use of marine resources can affect populations and SMP data are used by industries to assess the impacts of activities and projects.

View the latest population trends from the SMP, including analysis of abundance, productivity, survival and diet data, together with interpretation of the likely causes of change.

You can download or view breeding abundance and success data directly from the SMP online database or data can be requested from the SMP team.

Data from the previous national seabird censuses are also available for download.

Important: By accessing the above datasets you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions of the Seabird Monitoring Programme Data Access/Use Policy and by JNCC's Privacy Policy.

Data that partners to the SMP consider to be sensitive have been removed from the above datasets. These relate to Leach's storm-petrel, roseate tern, little tern, Mediterranean gull and, for Ireland, great skua. Data requests for these species will be considered by SMP on a case by case basis, taking into consideration species protection needs.


Submit Seabird Colony Data

Recommended sampling methods for population and productivity monitoring are described in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook for Britain and Ireland.

The SMP relies on partner organisations, volunteers and others to collect the data that build a picture of seabird trends, the causes of change and what can to be done to conserve them. Please contribute by submitting your records directly onto the SMP online database. Alternatively, if you are unable to submit data online, please complete and return the relevant form via email, or post them to the: Seabird Colony Team, JNCC, Inverdee House, Baxter Street, Aberdeen, AB11 9QA.


SMP Partner Organisations



UK CEH logo




Manx Birdlife logo

Manx National Heritage logo

National Trust for Scotland








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