Protecting The Birds
Each year millions of birds will migrate. They do this to get the optimum breeding grounds in the spring and feeding grounds in the winter. Even common garden birds will migrate short distances, however this often goes unnoticed as the birds that leave the UK are replaced by those coming to the UK from places such as Scandinavia and Russia, where winters can be very cold and food becomes scarce. Waterfowl such as ducks, geese and waders often arrive in the UK in large numbers in the winter and occupy many of our coastal sites. This makes them extremely important as feeding habitat for these species. In late winter as the temperature begins to increase the birds will migrate back to their breeding grounds. The north Kent marshes also provide a haven to many species that breed here through the spring and summer, such as Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher along with Gull and Tern species.
Due to the importance of some of these habitats for wintering birds they are given the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs). One of the largest threats to the birds using these areas is disturbance, this is when the birds become scared, stop feeding or resting, and fly further away to a different location. This can be caused by a number of factors, including dogs off leads, bait digging and the use of waterways for boating. Birds being disturbed is an issue as it means they become distracted from carrying out crucial activities such as feeding and resting, and whilst moving to a new location away from the disturbance they use up crucial energy which is needed over the winter months. Continual disturbance may result in a decline in birds as they cannot feed and rest properly, therefore may fail during the next breeding season. Disturbance during the breeding season can mean that nests are abandoned making them vulnerable to prey, especially in locations already under threat from high tides and predation.
Codes of Conduct:
Spending time outdoors on our beautiful coastline is beneficial for both mental and physical wellbeing. Bird Wise is not designed to restrict access to the coast but aims to raise awareness of disturbance issues, and to encourage behavioural change in visitors to avoid disturbance.
By following our codes of conduct, you can help to avoid disturbing birds and other wildlife whilst enjoying the coastal areas of north Kent.
On the land:
- Stay a good distance away from birds that are feeding or resting and move away if they become alert or stop feeding.
- Follow signs and requests, keeping to paths.
- Keep your dog under close control, on a short lead if necessary, if you cannot rely on its obedience.
- Exercise your dog away from feeding or resting birds and never allow them to chase birds.
- Stay behind the sea wall on the landward side where possible.
- Always clean up after your dog and pick up your rubbish, if there are no bins available please take it home with you.
On the water:
- At high tide, stay away from roosting birds.
- Avoid landing on the islands; they are used for breeding in the summer and roosting in the winter.
- Keep noise levels as low as possible.
- Only use authorised launch sites – details of these can be found here:
Thames https://www.boatingonthethames.co.uk/ .
Medway & Swale: http://msba.org.uk/?page_id=160
- Keep to the speed limits.
- View wildlife from at least 100m away and move away if they become agitated.
Take rubbish home with you and never dispose of litter in the water.