Project Arenaria

Non-estuarine Coastal Bird Survey in Portugal


Background and Objectives


Project Arenaria was launched in 2009 by the Eco-Ethology Research Unit (ISPA-Instituto Universitário), the National Natural History and Science Museum (MUHNAC) and the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) to fill a gap in our knowledge of bird populations using the Portuguese coastline. The 2009/10 field season aimed at assessing the population size and distribution of the waders (and other waterbirds) wintering on the Portuguese mainland coast. This initial survey represents now a baseline for interpreting future population trends of wintering shoredirds in mainland Portugal. Data were also collected in the Madeira and the Azores islands.


Project Arenaria ithen moved forward to set an annual monitoring scheme through a sample of squares that were selected taking into account the results of the first field season. This future long-term monitoring will only be possible with the continued collaboration and support of the volunteers.

In the 2015/16 season Project Arenaria will repeat the national survey of wintering coastal birds in the Portuguese non-estuarine coast, ans update to include the first national count of wintering Sanderlings Calidris alba in the country - the most abundant species in the last editions of the project. 

The 2015/16 field season goals are: 1) to carry the second edition of a nation-wide coastal monitoring scheme based on a sample of 199 squares in order to obtain data for interpreting future population trends in coastal wintering birds (particularly waders); 2) to obtain further information to complement data on spatial variations in wader abundance and their relationship with habitat features; 3) to carry out  nation-wide count of wintering Sanderlings Calidris alba; 4) to raise public awareness for the conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems and their biodiversity.




The project is coordinated through a Project Team (ECO) which has representatives from each partner (ISPA-Instituto Universitário, MUHNAC and SPEA). A network of regional organisers and field observers, both volunteer, is vital to carry out the coastal survey in order to achieve the project goals. SPEA will be responsible to undertake the communication between the ECO and the field observers.


Expected Results


Data will support research and conservation of bird populations and will not be made available to third parties with commercial objectives. ECO is willing to share and publish the results of the project, making them available to all those involved in the project and the public. Expected outputs may include articles in scientific journals and in environmental and conservation magazines, but also a report, including maps and tables, on the project webpage. See some results from the 2009/10 first nation-wide survey here

Getting Involved


All interested in getting involved should contact the ECO or the Regional Organiser (RO) of the area where they wish to do fieldwork (see contacts below). Please express your interest as early as possible, indicating which grid square(s) you whish to count, in order to facilitate the planning of the counts. In order to make possible the full coverage of the coastline, if you are unable to do the agreed survey or to deliver the filled forms, please let the RO know as early as possible, so that the counts can be made by another observer.

To find out more on how to participate, please download the following documents. 
General Information [General_Information.pdf] 
Instructions and Safety [Instructions_Safety.pdf]
Recording Form [Count_Form.pdf] 

Sanderlings. Michael Clarke/Creative Commons
Fotos: Pedro Geraldes e Ricardo Martins