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Wildlife aware paddle sports

This paddle sports guidance can be downloaded as a PDF for printing.

Connecting with wildlife on the water

Paddle sports offer an opportunity to spot and appreciate wildlife from a unique perspective.

What you get up to on the water matters.

Many paddlers are taking steps to avoid wildlife disturbance and share our shores with nature by following the Bird Aware Coastal Code:

  • look out for birds
  • move further away if they become alert
  • follow requests on signs.

Entry and exit

  • Plan your route and choose a wildlife friendly entry and exit point. Use our online map to find the most wildlife friendly routes.
  • Rig up and keep kit at the top of the beach. Mud, marsh and the water’s edge are feeding areas for birds; shingle beaches are resting and nesting areas.
  • Carry or float equipment in and out. Dragging equipment will damage habitat and your craft.

Using suitable entry and exit points can reduce erosion, avoid damaging sensitive plans and animals, and lessen wildlife disturbance.

A guide for kite and windsurfers

Download our paddle sports guidance .

Watch out, birds about!

Paddlers stay wildlife-friendly by minimising noise and sudden changes in direction.

If birds become aware of you and change their behaviour, give them space by moving away at a steady pace. You’ll know they’ve become aware of you if they start:

  • putting up their heads
  • bobbing or turning their heads in your direction
  • calling out
  • stretching or flapping wings
  • walking, swimming or flying away.



Tips for kayakers and canoers

Keep a low paddle angle near wildlife.

Tips for paddleboarders

Keep a low profile: get onto your knees near wildlife.

Did you know?

Wildlife disturbance isn’t just an issue in summer. Coastal birds like waders, ducks and geese will be able to feed and rest safely if they’re not disturbed in the winter months. This will help them thrive.

Protect sensitive places

Islands, spits, marshes, lagoons and mud are vital habitats. Human presence will prevent birds using them.

Avoid landing here and keep your distance.

Small creeks are the perfect hiding place for birds and are sensitive to disturbance.

Stick to the main channels.


Did you know?

Wildlife is more sensitive to being disturbed in areas that aren’t frequently visited.


Find out more about wildlife aware watersports and our interactive map.

Discover paddle routes recommended as wildlife friendly.