Bird Aware Solent Rangers, Dave Long and Karima Smith at Emsworth


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From October, 125,000 birds of all shapes and size migrate to Solent shores to escape the falling temperatures of places like Siberia, Iceland and Norway, but the futures of these birds are under threat by humans, and often un-knowingly.

A wide variety of endangered ducks, geese and wading birds choose our coast for the winter to feed on the seaweed and invertebrates that live along the shore. However, when people get too close to the birds they stop eating and can take flight, which uses their valuable energy reserves. These are the very reserves that they need to help build their strength following their long migration, which can be thousands of miles.

To help raise the understanding of this threat a Partnership of local authorities and nature conservation groups called ‘Bird Aware Solent’ continues to strive to get the message to the public. The Partnership has a team of Rangers along the coast to help put the birds on people’s map. With the world a very different place since last October now the Rangers are now engaging with folk in lots of innovative ways.

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Councillor Seán Woodward is Chairman of the body that oversees Bird Aware, Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH), and he comments:

“Everyone is having to adapt to the ‘new normal’.  Bird Aware Rangers are making the most of the skills and experience they have, to work in-line with social distancing rules and promote wildlife-responsible behaviour”.

The Bird Aware team will be focussing on locations with a steady stream of visitors, using tables and aids to help maintain social distancing. Signage is helping to prompt visitors to a variety of activities highlighting the birds and people are being encouraged to find out more from the Rangers. Telescopes are being used alongside live-feed cameras to help people see the birds without having to come into contact with equipment.

Social media is being used for video tours of Solent locations such as Ryde, Lymington, Warsash and Farlington; and fun stories are being posted showing the beauty and behaviour of coastal birds. Follow Bird Aware Solent by searching #BirdAware.

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Maybe consider speaking out against development at the site of the old Flamingo Park where the birds always came to over winter – but I guess the Bird Aware Group do not stick their necks out too far for fear of upsetting the Isle of Wight Tourist Board and Isle of Wight Council who have never mentioned this fact when promoting this plan. Also the plans to build holiday homes at Bembridge and Seaview sites, where the residents will presumably never move from their homes as it will disturb the wild life, what a joke.

Steven Willet

If birds were the only life heading to the UK’s shores, at least ‘they’ return with their enlarged family.

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