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Dark-bellied brent geese on the water

A huge thank you to all who took part in our very first Great Solent Birdwatch last month, it was a huge success. People got involved all over the Solent coast, from Hurst Spit to the Isle of Wight and Chichester Harbour. Rain, wind and very high tides did not deter our lovely participants, and in all we spent 38 hours on the coast and collectively recorded a whopping 8,797 individual birds of 72 different species. There were also a few sightings of some fairly rare and much-loved birds including: goldeneye, tufted duck, avocet, spoonbill, kingfisher, and even bittern.

The most numerous species was the brent goose, including flocks of 600 observed at Farlington Marshes and 500 spotted at Hayling Oyterbeds. The total count of brent geese alone was 2,136. In fact, brent geese were spotted on almost every returned survey. This is confirmation that the Solent is indeed an incredibly valuable habitat for this vulnerable species. By the way, did you know that the brent goose has a highly developed salt gland that allows it to drink salt water? One more weird and wonderful reason to appreciate these lovely birds!

Teal were the second most numerous species recorded with 1,053 individuals and the dunlin was a close third at 1,033 individuals. Dunlin was one of 14 species of waders recorded including 10 bar-tailed godwit and 23 snipe. The most numerous waders recorded were oystercatchers with 465 individuals and redshank at 362 individuals.

Bird Aware’s first dip into citizen science has given us a valuable snapshot of the amazing birds that use the Solent coast to feed and rest every winter. We are truly lucky to have them. What a privilege it is to work towards protecting them every winter, and we are encouraged more and more by all the lovely people we meet on the coast who are increasingly following our coastal code and helping these birds thrive.

I hope you can join us again next year, the bird nerds inside us can hardly wait!

Ranger Julie