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10th EBP meeting and workshop on Best Practices

EBP partners and guests will be gathering in Namur (Belgium) on 2-3 March 2017. Jointly with a regular EBP meeting, a thematic workshop will be organized in relation to an action of the EBP Life project aiming at “Promoting Best Practices and implementing overall benchmarks and quality indicators”. A total of 27 representatives from 17 countries will be attending this interesting event. A great opportunity to improve the quality of the data collected and promote the continuous improvement of the individual online portals themselves.

40 million new records every year!

The number of records collected by the on-line bird recording portals run by the EBP project partners reached a new record in 2015: 40 million! This means 19% more records than in 2014, and 140% more than in 2010. During the last 5 years, the recording activity has been increasing permanently, a pattern easily seen in the animated heat map shown below.

Do we have to get ready for a Waxwing winter?

The Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) is well known for its irruptive migrations. This Holarctic species breeds in boreal forests. In winter, Waxwings from Northern Fennoscandia are heading South but they usually stay in the Northern half of the Continent, around Baltic Sea. During “irruption winters” however, large numbers are spreading across Western and Central Europe (Britain, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, and France). Large groups can then easily be observed in parks and gardens, where they feed on berries, for the greatest pleasure of nature photographers.

In the EBP viewer, you can easily visualize and compare dynamic maps of an “irruption” winter, such as the last one on record: 2012-2013, with a “normal” winter, such as 2013-2014:


The option to compare “winters” rather than “civil years” on the maps is particularly useful to study the phenomenon. Irruption years are not all similar: during 2010-2011 winter, Waxwings were abundant in Britain, but not so numerous in Central Europe, at the contrary of 2012-2013 winter:


While the last two winters were not “irruption years” for Western/Central Europe, current observations and migration counts suggest that 2016-2017 may well turn out to be a Waxwing winter… BirdTrack is showing a much higher reporting rate than usual in Great Britain, Observation.org is showing a strong presence of Waxwing along the Southern shores of the North Sea, and groups of Waxwing were observed from late October in Northern Germany.

Currently, we are working to bring you all this information in a near-to-real time basis so that it will be much easier to get ready for a new Waxwing winter! Between-years comparisons of such large-scale movements across the continent will also hopefully offer new insights about the drivers of the irruption, which are supposed to be food-shortage in the North combined with a good breeding success in the previous summer. However, detailed mechanisms are still surprisingly poorly understood.

EBP helps to understand movement patterns of rare species: the example of the Yellow-browed Warbler

The EuroBirdPortal (EBP) project will increase our understanding of large-scale migration patterns for a range of common birds frequently recorded by birdwatchers all over Europe. However, observation pressure is so high when all portals are combined that migration patterns of rare species can also be apprehended.

Early autumn is a very good period for some of the rare Siberian species, and nowadays the adrenaline level in fanatic birders is very high knowing that two strong anticyclones, as seen below, are currently driving eastern wind directly to NW Europe.


A high yield of Eastern vagrants or rare migrants was therefore expected and is actually already observed. Among them, the Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), a tiny passerine breeding from Ural region to Eastern Asia and normally wintering in South-East Asia, is now in the limelight. Very high numbers of this beautiful species are currently recorded in many European countries, especially on the eastern coast of the UK.

The pattern of migration of this nice warbler can easily be seen through the EBP viewer:

In the animated map we can clearly observe that the first records take place in Finland during the first week of September, then subsequent arrivals occur in Eastern UK and southern North Sea coastal areas. In some years, they appear first in the UK, but in other years they come more quickly in the Netherlands and Belgium, depending probably on local weather variation. The peak week is in general between 8 and 14 October.

When EBP will run on a near-to-real time basis, these impressive migration events as the one observed this year will be rapidly detected and easily followed by birdwatchers all over the continent. Even before that, keep an eye open and train your hearing, because 2016 is THE year to find this species at your local patch!

Early northward movements in 2014, the hottest year on record

As exemplified by the Common Chiffchaff, the new EBP animated maps nicely depict how several partial migrants moved northward much earlier during 2014 than in other recent years. Interestingly, the pattern parallels that of temperature: 2014 being the third warmest winter and the warmest spring in Europe since 1950 and, overall, the hottest year on record.

Common Chiffchaff observations and minimum temperature during mid March 2013 and 2014.

More than 2.6 million different animated map combinations

The data from 2014 has been uploaded to the EBP demo viewer, notably increasing the number of distributional maps that are depicted. With this update, now the viewer allows free access to animated weekly distributional maps of a total of 50 different bird species for five years (2010-2014). With several map types available, this means that more than 2.6 million different animated map combinations are available to choose from.

Millions of animated map combinations like this are available in the EBP viewer.

A grant to develop the EBP viewer into a near real-time solution

The EBP has recently secured a LIFE preparatiory grant from the European Commission to develop the project entitled “Combining and improving online bird portals data to display near-real-time spatiotemporal patterns of bird distribution across Europe", known by the acronym LIFE Euro Bird Portal (LIFE15 PRE/ES/000002).

The project has a duration of three years (January 2016 to December 2018) and an overall cost of 510.557 €, of which 60% (306.334 €) are financed by the European Union.

The main specific objectives of project are:

1) To create a new EBP data sharing standard, database repository and data-flow system capable of managing automatically and in near-real-time all data interchange processes between the local online portals and the central databank.

2) Adapt and improve the current EBP demo viewer and the spatial bird distribution models in order to reliably display detailed and up-to-date European-wide spatiotemporal patterns of bird distribution in near-real-time.

3) Increase the geographical coverage of the EBP project to include most of the European Union (>90% of its territory).

4) Improve the quality and relevance of the data collected.


For further details see the LIFE EBP website.

8th EBP meeting: Netherlands, May 31th-June 1st 2016

The next EBP meeting will be held in the Netherlands during May 31th and June 1st. The meeting will be organized by (SOVON) and will take place at the Villa Wylerberg, Beek-Ubbergen.

All currently available species already uploaded to the viewer

This week we finished the opening of all available species with the Northern Pintail. Now, the total number of available species is 49. Enjoy!

Joint EBCC workshop

The first joint workshop of the 2nd European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA2), Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) and EuroBirdPortal (EBP) was held in Mikulov (Czech Republic) in early November. All three initiatives are under the umbrella of European Bird Census Council (EBCC) and have managed to gather 96 participants from 41 European countries. The main objectives of the workshop were to present the current work and progress of the initiatives and enable all participants to enrol into discussion about future directions and development of the initiatives.

Participants to the joint EBBA2-PECBMS-EBP Mikulov workshop.

Two new species available

Two widespread passerines, the Common House Martin and the Northern Wheatear, have been added today to the list of available species in the EBP demo viewer. Both are summer visitors, but their migratory and phenological patterns are quite different. Have a look at the animated maps!

EBP will be launched next Friday, June 5th, in Brussels

The EBP project and its demo viewer will be launched next Friday (June 5th) in Brussels, in the framework of the (Green Week 2015), the annual conference on European environment policy organized by the European Commission.

The presentation will take place in a session entitled ("The WEB and IT for nature") that will look at the exciting possibilities opening up for collecting and presenting citizen science data online. Other presentations in this session will focus at the latest developments in the management of environmental data within the European Environment Agency, and on how satellite data can be used for environmental inspections. Afterwards, the side event "Monitoring bird populations at the continental scale: a closer look on the new EuroBirdPortal and the other EBCC initiatives" will be devoted to the presentation of the aims of the EBCC and the ambitious work that is undertaking in the large scale monitoring of European birds in time and space.

EBP teaser video

We just produced a short teaser video about the EBP demo viewer. Hope you enjoy it!

EBP recording activity at a glance

The species maps shown in the EBP demo viewer are based on more than 86 million bird records submitted between 2010 and 2013 to the on-line bird recording portals run by the project (partners). This heat map nicely depicts the temporal evolution of this recording activity. Certainly, the geographical coverage has been greatly improved since 2009 (see, for example, Germany and Austria), and sure it will be further increased in the next few years! Good birding!

6th EBP meeting: Belgium, March 12-13th 2015

The next EBP meeting will be held at the (Bosmuseum), in Hoeilaart (Belgium) between March 12th and 13th. The meeting will be organized jointly by Natuurpunt, Natagora and Dirk Raes (European colour-ring Birding©) and has the support of InVerde - ANB, the Flemish Agency For Forest and Nature.

Find out more about the other two main EBCC projects

Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS)

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (EBBA2)