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The Great Solent Birdwatch

More tips and advice

The Great Solent Birdwatch is a wildlife event focusing on coastal bird species around Hampshire, Chichester Harbour and the Isle of Wight. It is a citizen science project that aims to raise awareness of the incredible range of overwintering birds that visit the Solent each year.

We hope that people taking part will be inspired to become more aware of the birds that use the Solent area. Our aim is to reduce disturbance from coastal recreation by giving these special birds the space they need to feed and rest.

Birdwatcher with binoculars

When and where to go

You can do your birdwatch at any time from Saturday 23 October to Sunday 31 October, for up to an hour. You can choose any spot you want on the Solent coast within the Bird Aware area – see our map – although this must be an area of public access and not private land. Please ensure you check the tide times before you go.


Take care

Make sure you follow the Coastal Code: look out for birds, move further away if they become alert, keep dogs close and follow requests on signs.

Follow the latest Government guidelines and advice about Covid-19/Coronavirus.

While everyone who takes part is responsible for their own safety, we recommend you look at our advice for staying safe and healthy during your watch.


What to bring

You’ll need a paper and a pencil or some other means of keeping a tally of the maximum number of birds you see. Dress appropriately for the weather with warm layers, waterproofs and suitable footwear – or a sunhat and sunscreen. Carry a mobile phone with you in case of emergencies.

It might also be useful to bring:

• Binoculars or telescope

• Camera

• Flask with a hot drink and some snacks

• A bird guide (book or app) 

Many of the birds on the coast are identifiable without binoculars using our online bird identification guide. But remember not to get too close and to follow the Coastal Code so that you don’t disturb the birds while on your watch.


Completing your recording form

Download our printable Great Solent Birdwatch recording form. Most of the names of the birds that you might see have been written on the form for you already, you just need to make a note of how many you saw.

For each species you should count the maximum number you see at any one time so that you avoid double counting the same birds. For example, if you see a group of three oystercatchers together and then later on another two, and after that another one, the number you should submit is three. If you see a different species that isn’t on the list, just add it in yourself in the ‘other’ section.

Once you’ve finished your birdwatch, use our  Great Solent Birdwatch online recording form  to enter your data. This will collate the data automatically.

You can do as many birdwatch sessions as you like during the Great Solent Birdwatch. Fill in and submit a separate recording form for each watch.

If you’d rather not keep a record of your watch, you’re free to enjoy birdwatching without counting birds or knowing what they are. Just getting out to your coastline and enjoying seeing the birds around you makes you a participant. If you see anything interesting, please feel free to contact us:, and stay tuned on our social media pages (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) to see updates throughout the week.


What happens to the data?

Bird Aware Solent will review all the data submitted to find out what was seen during the week, and then publish any interesting results found. This will then be shared on our website and social media pages in the New Year.


Coastal canines

Dogs are welcome to join the Great Solent Birdwatch but make sure they don’t disturb the birds and that they follow the Coastal Code too. They should look out for birds, move away if they become alert, keep close to their owners, and follow requests on signs.


Photography competition – win £40 of gift vouchers

If you take any good photos during your watch then you can enter them into our Great Solent Birdwatch photography competition. There are two categories: Junior for anyone under 18, and Adults. Send them to by [entry date] and let us know which category you’re entering and where you took the photograph. The winner will be chosen by the Bird Aware Solent team.

As well as entering your photos into the competition, you can also share them on social media using #GSB2021 and don’t forget to share your #SurveySelfie.

Visit Great Solent Birdwatch photography competition to find out more.


Problems and concerns

We have every expectation that this will be a positive and enjoyable experience for you, however we wanted to let you know that if for whatever reason you encounter anything at all that makes you feel uncomfortable, please do not continue. Feel free to stop at any time and just note the time that you stopped on your recording form.

Do let our team know if you encounter any problems during your watch. Similarly, let us know if you have had a great time participating in the Great Solent Birdwatch, and why. If you have any questions or concerns at any point, then please do get in touch with us by emailing

If there is an emergency, please call 999.

If you need to speak to the RSPCA regarding the welfare of any wildlife, please contact 0300 1234 999.