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Oystercatchers on the beach

Proud partnership helps promote local birds

February 2021

Bird Aware Solent – an award-winning partnership dedicated to reducing bird disturbance along the wider Solent coastline – has partnered with Fishbourne Parish Council on the Isle of Wight to develop new interpretation materials for residents and visitors.

Fishbourne Parish Council recognises the importance of its impressive coastline, which is internationally protected as part of the Solent & Southampton Water Special Protection Area. The council was eager to educate residents and visitors about its ecological value, and to help them enjoy the birds who live there without disturbing them.

Fishbourne’s coastline is home to a range of different birds throughout the year, with numbers increasing in the autumn as overwintering species such as dark-bellied brent geese and redshank arrive. Some are endangered species, and reliant on feeding on the coastline between tides to feed and build up reserves for their spring migration.

Interpretation materials on the coastline will help the public identify nine species of bird and provide additional hints on how to recognise bird calls from species such as the oystercatcher and dark-bellied brent geese. Best of all, it provides simple tips on how to enjoy the coastline without scaring the birds away. Most can only feed for a few hours each day when the tide is right, and disturbance from people and dogs can stop them reaching the food essential for their survival.

“We take great pride in what Fishbourne has to offer and understand our role as custodian to protect its best features” said Malcolm Hector, chair of Fishbourne Parish Council. “Our coastline is recognised nationally and beyond for its importance to overwintering birds, so it was only right to develop exciting new materials with the experts at Bird Aware Solent to ensure people can enjoy the birds without harming them”.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire (a body that oversees Bird Aware Solent) acknowledged “Our work to reduce the disturbance of birds across the wider Solent coastline requires significant effort and dedication from rangers, the public and like-minded partners. We are delighted to be working with pro-active organisations such as Fishbourne Parish Council to inform and educate the public to the beauty present on our coastline”.

The interpretation materials are due to be installed imminently, dependent on lockdown restrictions.