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Dog with Bird Aware Solent ranger

Enjoying the beach with your dog

We’re grateful to everyone walking their dogs who takes time to look out for birds and give them the space they need to feed and rest without being disturbed. By following the Bird Aware Coastal Code you can keep your dog and wildlife safe and happy while walking on the beach.

Look out for birds and move further away if they become alert

Birds at the coast will be doing one of three things: feeding, resting or breeding. To survive the winter and thrive in the future, they need to do all these things without being disturbed.

So look out for birds on the beach, enjoy their sights and sounds from afar and give them space, especially if they seem alert or startled.

Coastal Code: Look out for birds
Coastal Code: Move further way if birds become alert
Wading birds feeding at Yarmouth

The water’s edge: a prime habitat

The water’s edge or waterline is a prime spot for birds to feed. They tend to follow the water’s edge up and down as the tides change.

This means it’s a good idea to steer clear of the water’s edge wherever possible, especially during the winter.

If you are keen to walk to the water’s edge as a focal point, you can help the birds by choosing to walk to the edge and back, rather than walk along the waterline. This will be much less disruptive to coastal birds, especially if you choose a point on the water’s edge that appears to be clear of birds.

Low tide is prime feeding time for wading birds and brent geese and they will only have a limited time when the mud or beach is exposed.

If you’re planning a coastal walk when the tide is low, it’s best to keep dogs on a lead or a long line lead to make sure your dog isn’t  tempted to venture into the exposed intertidal – this is the bit of the beach that’s underwater when the tide is high. This also has the benefit of keeping furry friends safe around the soft mud.

We’re very grateful to everyone who gives the birds as much room as possible, staying on paths where possible and walking at the top of the beach rather than close to the water’s edge.


Coastal Code: Keep dogs alongside
Coast and Country Canines dog

Keep dogs alongside you 

Many of the birds have really good camouflage: sometimes even when we’re looking for them with binoculars, they’re difficult to spot! A long spit may look empty, but there is a good chance there are birds at the end, and a dog venturing on that spit will cause them to fly off, or avoid using that area for good.

Dogs are very similar to the birds’ natural predators so even the sight of them can be enough for birds to take flight, wasting precious energy and time feeding.

Keeping your dog close reduces the chances of scaring or excluding birds from an area.

Those dog walkers whose dogs like to range further, are helping birds thrive by keeping them on the lead in areas where the beach is narrow and where they’re likely to be close to the birds.


We love to celebrate those dogs and their owners who take time to look out for birds and give them the space they need. Dogs who’ve been spotted by our ranger team behaving in a ‘bird aware’ way are featured regularly in our social media accounts. Look out for our #WaggyWednesday spotlight.

Click here to visit the Bird Aware Solent Instagram account. 

Coastal Code: follow requests on signs

Following requests on signs

Thanks to everyone who’s careful to pay attention to signs, especially those indicating when dogs should be on leads. This is important for wildlife but also for your dogs’ safety as signs might warn of an unsafe path, cattle or other dangers.


Thank you for being Bird Aware!