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Group of Brent Geese in water

Wednesday was the last day of our ‘winter season’ and what a strange one it has been with everyone going in and out of tiers and lockdowns! Covid-19 has certainly made some aspects of our job incredibly challenging over the past year, but there have also been opportunities for us to develop new ways to reach people and help raise awareness of the overwintering birds found around the Solent coast.

Having spent the winter with us, many of these birds will now be leaving our shores as they undertake their incredible migrations back towards the Arctic to reach their summer breeding grounds. Our favourite dark-bellied brent geese will be returning to Siberia as we speak, wish them luck – the journey is around 3,000 miles!

It’s always sad to see the birds go, but we feel very lucky as Rangers to have spent another winter season with them. They choose to come to the Solent each year because of the special habitats found around our coast such as rich intertidal mud, saltmarsh and seagrass beds. All of these provide important feeding opportunities for them, and in a much more favourable climate than spending the winter in the Arctic!

As a way of celebrating our special coastline and for those who could not visit this autumn and winter due to the restrictions in place, we created a little project back in February, and each made a ‘Site Tour Video’ to highlight a part of the Solent and its birdlife. We hope these virtual tours will help people feel closer to nature whilst providing an opportunity to highlight the importance of these sites for our local wildlife. You can find our videos here: Ranger Site Tours

As we now head into April, it’s feeling more and more like spring every day! We wave goodbye to our winter birds but say hello to summer arrivals such as terns and swallows. I’ve started to hear the calls of Mediterranean gulls, spotted a sandwich tern at Bembridge this week and the birds in my garden have been extremely busy! There is a pair of sparrows nesting, two families of starlings and some very productive wood pigeons who have already got two juveniles that have fledged the nest! They have been very entertaining to watch as they continue to pester their parents for food, even though they are almost the same size as them!

Whilst I will miss our winter birds, it’s exciting to see the changes that spring brings. Feeling the warmth of the sun and seeing all the beautiful flowers like daffodils, crocuses and daisies start to bloom certainly brings a smile to my face. That’s the great thing about nature and changing seasons, there is always something new to see!

Another change we have undergone recently is saying goodbye to our wonderful seasonal staff. We were joined back in September 2020 by our three seasonal Rangers – Dave (left), Miranda (middle) and Mark (right). The whole team would like to say a huge thank you to them for all their hard work over the last 6 months. Their dedication, care and passion for wildlife shone through and they were a pleasure to work with. We wish the three of them all best for their new adventures!

As for myself and the rest of the Rangers, we are busy reviewing our winter work and planning for the seasons ahead. Who knows what the next few months might have in store, but as restrictions start to ease it’s important to remember just how much wildlife and the natural world means to us.

If you are heading out to the countryside or coast, always keep a look out for birds and all the other creatures who depend on these natural spaces, remember it’s their home too! Luckily simple steps can be taken to help them such as sticking to pathways and following requests on signs. We created this video last year as lockdown was easing in the summer, but all the same messages still apply.

Stay safe everyone, enjoy the springtime and help us to keep our wonderful wildlife safe too.

Ranger Charlotte