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Birdlife survey highlights diverse Solent wildlife

21 December 2022

A whopping 93 different bird species were spotted by members of the public during this year’s Great Coastal Birdwatch, including 16 birds in the red category for conservation concern.

Brent geese took the top spot with almost 2,000 spied by volunteers during the week-long event. Ten percent of the world’s population of dark-bellied brent geese spend the winter on the Solent: at this time of year as many as 25,000 can be seen across the Solent. Like many migrating sea birds, they fly thousands of miles from the Arctic to get to our shores.

The Great Coastal Birdwatch is an annual wildlife event introduced by wildlife organisation Bird Aware Solent to raise awareness of sea birds that spend the winter in the coastline.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire, the body that oversees Bird Aware Solent, said: ‘Our coastal birds face many challenges over the winter. By spotlighting the diversity of wildlife on our Solent shores, we hope to encourage people to look out for them, and to give them space to feed and rest without being disturbed.’

During the research project, which took place in October this year, members of the public totted up the number of birds they saw in an hour on the coast.

Other coastal birds hitting high numbers include almost 1,800 black-headed gulls, 1,700 Canada geese and around 1,500 oystercatchers. Rarer sightings include white tailed eagles which have recently been reintroduced to the Isle of Wight.

Three of the top ten most frequently sighted birds are in the ‘red-list’ category for conservation concern: dunlin, black-tailed godwits, and lapwing.

Top ten coastal birds Numbers Migrates from Conservation status
1. Dark-bellied brent goose 1,923 Arctic Siberia Amber
2. Black-headed gull 1,789 UK, northern Europe and Russia Amber
3. Canada goose 1,679
4. Oystercatcher 1,679 UK, Netherlands Amber
5. Dunlin 1,260 Scandinavia, Russia Red
6. Black-tailed godwit 1,028 Iceland Red
7. Redshank 967 UK, Iceland Amber
8. Lapwing 830 UK, northern Europe Red
9. Wigeon 773 Iceland, Russia, Scandinavia, Ukraine Amber
10. Teal 614 Baltics, west Russia Amber



Brent geese