Generic filters
East Head and Sanderling

It started as a rather gloomy and wet day, but the rain soon clears and the sun starts to appear from behind the clouds. My first visit of the day is to the pretty coastal area at Prinsted which is a popular with all manner of visitors. At low tide a wide variety of birds can be seen feeding on the mudflats.

As I arrive, I can hear the chattering dark-bellied brent geese and soon spy them all feasting fairly close to the shoreline. They look to be having a great time as they are left undisturbed to eat, thanks to everyone sticking to the coast path. The brent geese are soon joined by oystercatchers, dunlin, redshank, turnstone and curlew all happily feeding together, apart from one brent goose that takes exception to an oystercatcher invading its space and chases it away which I find quite amusing. The oystercatcher makes its annoyance known by noisily flying off.

Ranger Gail at East Head

As the wind dies down and the rain stops, lots of people arrive and are interested to find out about the birds that can be seen through the telescope. They are all fascinated to hear how far the birds have flown to spend the winter on the Solent coast, especially the brent geese. Thank you to everyone who came to talk to me and helped the birds at Prinsted by walking along the path so the birds could feed on the mudflats undisturbed.

My second visit of the day is to East Head which is part of the West Witterings. The area comprises sand dunes, saltmarsh and a beach area. The tide is really high and the saltmarsh is completely covered when I arrive so I walk around to the beach to see if there are any birds along the shore line. I spot around 20 sanderling all running along the shoreline like little clockwork toys. I situate myself in a position to show visitors the birds and ask if they could help them out by walking at the top of the beach rather than the shoreline. Lots of people comment on how cute the birds are and are surprised to hear that they have flown all the way from the Arctic to spend the winter here. More and more sanderling arrive on the beach as the afternoon continues with a maximum of around 80 birds at one time.

Sanderling on the beach

The sun starts to set which is my cue to make my way back along the beach. I bid farewell to the sanderling for the day, glancing behind me as I walk and see they still happy feeding along the shoreline. I feel unexpectedly emotional knowing that I have been able to help them for a few hours and hope they continue to feed undisturbed for the remainder of the day. A big thank you to all the beach-goers I spoke to who were happy to walk at the top of the beach to give space to the sanderling and look out for them in the future.

Ranger Gail