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Celebrating the Solent’s winter birds with the Great Coastal Birdwatch

This year’s Great Coastal Birdwatch kicks off on Saturday 14 October and Bird Aware Solent is encouraging local residents to take part.

Now in its fifth year, the fortnight-long birdwatch celebrates the autumn arrival of birds that spend the colder months on the Solent coast.

These feathered migrants travel extraordinary distances to get to the mudflats and saltmarshes along the coastline every year. Tiny sanderlings, for example, fly thousands of miles from Arctic Siberia and Greenland while turnstones arrive from Northern Greenland, Canada and Lapland.

The annual birdwatch helps raise awareness of the wealth of wildlife on our doorstep and gives Bird Aware valuable data on birds that spend the winter here.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire, the body that oversees Bird Aware, said: ‘Our beautiful shoreline is an important haven for birds, particularly over the winter months. By increasing people’s awareness of their awe-inspiring journeys, we hope they will be encouraged to give birds the space they need to feed and rest without being disturbed.’

Anyone who wants to take part in this year’s birdwatch needs to spend up to an hour on the Solent coast between Saturday 14 October and Sunday 29 October, counting how many different species they see. It’s free to take part with an information pack available to download from the Bird Aware website (

Bird Aware is asking people to report their findings through its website and is also encouraging people to avoid disturbing wildlife during their birdwatching stint.

Last year an impressive total of 93 species were spotted by members of the public including white-tailed eagles which have recently been reintroduced to the area.

Three of the top ten most frequently sighted birds in last year’s study are currently on the ‘red-list’ category for conservation concern: dunlins, black-tailed godwits, and lapwings.

Bird Aware Solent works on coastlines around the New Forest, Southampton Water, Portsmouth, Chichester and Langstone Harbours and the northern coast of the Isle of Wight. It is formed of a partnership of 19 different local authorities and wildlife organisations.

The Great Coastal Birdwatch illustration with a ringed plover and a dark bellied brent goose