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Case study: dog walks at Bunny Meadows

Dog walking is the biggest cause of overwintering bird disturbance on the Solent coastline.

Bird Aware Solent believe that being part of a wildlife aware community and protecting natural spaces is part of being a responsible dog walker, and best of all, it doesn’t have to make walks less fun.

Man holding a phone with the details of a dog walk around Bunny Meadows listed

One of these sites is Bunny Meadows at Warsash, with its raised path through expanses of mud flats which are very attractive feeding spots for coastal birds. The Bunny Meadows featured walk has step by step instructions of the recommended route and provides dog owners with
information on:

  • The distance, type of terrain, facilities and parking to help them choose and plan the right walk for them and their pet
  • Bird species they may spot on the mudflats – connecting visitors with the landscape and wildlife so they will look out for the birds
  • Potential hazards – not only to protect dogs but also show visitors the benefit of keeping dogs safely on the path.

The results

The walk is contributing towards a reduction in the time spent directly on the more sensitive parts of the coast. It is also encouraging owners to engage with their dogs more, making their walks safer and more beneficial, as well as meaning that dogs are too busy to chase wildlife.

“I was blown away by the Bunny Meadows walk, having Teal [my dog] finding and retrieving items I’d left along the raised path (my old socks work well!), while also watching the [coastal birds] just metres away on the mud and in the water”.

Stephen Jenkinson, dog owner and Expert Advisor on dogs and recreational disturbance