Haven for Hill Head winter birds
A protected area for birds is to be introduced on Hill Head beach between October and March.
Part of the beach will now exclude dogs over the winter months to look after migratory birds that use this shoreline for feeding.
The protected zone will be at the western end of the beach, from the Hill Head Sailing Club to the end of the beach huts on the promenade, between 1 October and 31 March. Dog walkers will continue to be able to use the walkway in front of the beach huts.
Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire, the body that oversees Bird Aware, said: “This will help safeguard the future of the coastal birds which spend the winter on our shores every year, while ensuring suitable access is maintained for local residents.”
Councillor Joanne Burton, Executive Member for Health and Public Protection at Fareham Borough Council added: “There will always be selected areas where residents can walk their dogs along the coast at Hill Head, but it cannot be to the detriment of our coastal wildlife. I am delighted to be bringing in this dog exclusion zone to safeguard our coastal birds.”
In recent years, birds have frequently been disturbed on this part of the beach, particularly by dogs. Bird Aware Solent’s regular patrols in this area show that that Hill Head Beach has ranked third out of 87 sites along the entire Solent coastline for disturbance over the last five years.
Hill Head beach is important place for protected birds including dunlin, sanderling and dark-bellied brent geese. These birds migrate here from the Arctic, some as far as 3,000 miles, to feed on the rich sand and mud flats. They need to be able to feed and rest without being disturbed in order to survive the winter and return to their summer breeding grounds.
As part of Fareham Borough Council’s review of the Public Spaces Protection Order on Hill Head beach, Bird Aware Solent proposed introducing an additional seasonal dog exclusion zone during the winter months. Feedback from local residents supported the new bird protection and the proposals were agreed by Fareham Borough Council on 20 June 2023.
The winter exclusion zone is in addition to a summer restriction at a different portion of the beach. The two zones occur at different times of the year meaning that there will only be one dog exclusion zone in effect at any one time, and a section of the beach will be available for dogs all year.
Bird Aware Solent is a partnership of 19 different local authorities and wildlife organisations. It encourages people to follow the Bird Aware Coastal Code: to look out for birds; move further away if the birds become alert; keep dogs alongside; and follow requests on signs.
The partnership raises awareness of the ducks, geese and wading birds that spend the winter on the Solent coastline. It works on coastlines around the New Forest, Southampton Water, Portsmouth, Chichester and Langstone Harbours and the northern coast of the Isle of Wight. It aims to lessen the potential recreational impact from new homes built in the area.