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Case study: A haven for Hill Head’s winter birds

Hill Head beach in Fareham features a vital feeding spot for birds including dunlin, which are on the red list for conservation concern, sanderling and dark-bellied brent geese.

Regular patrols by the Bird Aware Solent ranger team showed the beach ranked second highest out of 87 patrolled sites in terms of the number of disturbance events per hour in the previous 5 years.

The opportunity

The robust data collected by the ranger team enabled Bird Aware Solent to make a convincing case for an extension to the beach’s existing Public Spaces Protection Order.

The sign installed at Hill Head beach for the new bird protection area

In March 2023 Bird Aware Solent proposed an additional seasonal dog exclusion zone on part of the beach to provide a bird refuge provide during the winter months.

The ranger team’s thorough understanding of the way visitors use the beach meant the proposals were able to retain suitable beach access for visitors while providing a safe refuge for protected birds. The pathway in front of the beach huts was not included within the proposed protected zone and would be free for walkers and their dogs to use.

Bird Aware Solent worked closely together with its partner Farnham Borough Council to encourage local people to give their feedback on the proposed winter bird refuge in a public consultation.

The results

The public consultation showed a significant majority of local residents (74%) were in support of Bird Aware Solent’s recommendations and a new bird refuge area was introduced in October 2023.