The science of birds, their ecology and conservation along the East Atlantic Flyway
The Atlantic Flyway Network is a umbrella group of partners from France and Spain working together on avian study projects. Individually and collectively we collect data on bird species that use the Atlantic coastline as a migration route or flyway to and from their wintering areas in the Iberian peninsula and Africa. The network was set-up in 2011 to bring the expertise of the various groups together into one organisation.

The aims of the network are:

- to build large statistical models
- to manage important data sets

Working in an International context allows the teams involved:

- to compare results
- to propose original papers to International scientific reviews and journals
- to apply for funding to allow local and co-operative projects to be achieved

There are currently 5 groups involved in the network, 3 from France and 2 from Spain. Each group has been working on various projects in their respective areas for several years, mostly at wetland or estuarine sites. More information on the individual group and their activities can be found below.

Each organisation involved in the network operates independently in their own zone. Together they work to cover the whole of the Atlantic coastline from Brittany to Galicia.
European Atlantic Flyway showing main migration routes to and from Africa.

Map showing the locations of each of the main network partners

Loire Estuary (FR) : Association ACROLA

Gironde Estuary (FR) : Biosphere Environnement

Adour Estuary (FR) : Association OISO

Txingudi (ES) : Aranzadi Sciences Society

Urdaibai (ES) : Urdaibai Bird Center
There are currently five organisations involved in the Atlantic Flyway network. Each group carries out avian studies in different parts of France or Spain and are, for the most part, made up of volunteers with some groups employing salaried or temporary staff.

The Association pour la Connaissance et la Recherche Ornithologique Loire et Atlantique is based on the Loire estuary in north-west France where they organise the annual ringing camp from July to September at Donges. ACROLA carry out studies in the region including annual monitoring of breeding birds at the Briere National Park, ringing of passage migrants and various impact studies.
In recent years ACROLA has been at the forefront of a European programme studying the ecology and migration of the Globally-threatened Aquatic Warbler (
Acrocephalus paludicola) including sending a team of ringers to west Africa to discover more about the wintering grounds of the species. More information on the group is available at
Biosphere Environnement

Created and run by experienced biologists and ecologists, Biosphere Environnement is a national association operating principally on the Gironde Estuary whose objectives include:
- Research and expertise in conducting basic and applied ecology
- Training in Ecology (fauna monitoring techniques)
- Mediation of culture and scientific technology in biology and ecology: dissemination of knowledge to a wider audience (schools, recreation centers, public)
Biosphere Environment operates throughout France and abroad.
More information at
Much of the work of each group involves ringing migrants as part of a capture-mark-recapture programme  under the supervision of the respective authorities in each country.
Members of the Atlantic Flyway Network during the inaugural meeting held in February 2011
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenaebanus, one of the most common passerine migrants encountered along the Atlantic Flyway
Observatoire d’Intérêt Scientifique Ornithologique

OISO is a scientific association that brings together research collaborators in ornithology. It leads ornithological surveys in the basin of the Adour river in SW France and in the Basque Country, using ringing as the main method. OISO collaborates with the CRBPO (French research center who administer the ringing programmes) and integrates the research programs of the National Museum of Natural History.
It studies migration, nesting and wintering wetland birds including specific projects on Reed Buntings (
Emberiza schoeniculus) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) and contributes to the preservation of the sites studied in partnership with local funders and site managers. OISO welcomes students of universities and trains numerous ornithologists annually. It carries out educational and awareness of all age groups, connected by our partnerhips and the local press and TV. For more information please visit
Aranzadi Sciences Society

The Aranzadi  Society of Sciences is a non-profit scientific association, whose main goal is the scientific research on the natural and human environment and to spread the results obtained. The Society has been engaged in research and education in numerous branches of the natural sciences for over 60 years years and currently has some 1,540 members of whom about 150 are researchers from different scientific disciplines.
The Ornithology department began to work in 1949, when the association created a Scientific Ringing Scheme that supplied its own rings with the reference "Aranzadi-San Sebastian".
This Ringing Scheme was the first of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula, and led the first ringing campaigns carried out in the Basque Country and beyond its borders (Doñana, the Ebro Delta, etc). These campaigns evolved into preliminary studies on birds, which were a starting point for the creation of protected areas. The scheme recorded the very first data on transoceanic birds travelling from the Iberian Peninsula to far-away places such as Brazil, Surinam, Martinique and the Lesser Antilles.
More information:
Urdaibai Bird Centre

The Urdaibai Bird Center is a facility which combines scientific research and and environmental education and is located in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve near Gernika in the municipality of Gautegiz Arteaga on the north coast of Spain. The Center provides modern interpretative installations and rooms specifically designed for meetings and conferences, organises a wide range of activities aimed at those who have an interest in birds, such as general guided tours, more specific tours focusing on certain subjects or training courses related to ornithology all located in a peerless natural environment.

Urdaibai Bird Center is administered by the Aranzadi Society of Sciences which conducts scientific research on birds, their migrations and ecology. For more information please visit:

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
Wryneck Jynx torquilla
European Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus