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Winter Birds need your protection on Northam Burrows

Birds on the Skern

Birds on the Skern

If you're a keen bird watcher you may already have noticed a change in the variety of birds visiting our gardens and parks as the days get shorter and the colder winter months draw in. Some UK birds such as Swallows and House Martins head off to warmer climates at this time of year, but it's also a time when we see a large influx of Scandinavian and Northern European species escaping the harsher winters found elsewhere.

Winter favourites include species such as the Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing and noisy native Oystercatchers. Shelduck are also abundant and many of these species like to spend the winter months on the tideline around the salt marshes, sand dunes and sand banks of the Taw and Torridge estuary, which borders Northam Burrows. This is also a time of year where pet dogs are more likely to be in closer proximity to these flocks and Northam Burrows rangers are reminding people to make a special effort not to allow their animals to disturb the birdlife. This is particularly important as the birds need all their energy to feed and survive the cold weather and rest with as little stress as possible.

Dog owners should be aware that the birds are likely to be a lot closer to the shore around high tide, so sticking to designated paths and having your dog under control is advisable at these times. Despite the need for extra vigilance, it's also a great time for nature lovers to observe all the exotic visitors, which also include Snow Buntings, and Brent Geese. As with previous years Rangers are hopeful that with a little effort the right balance between recreation and conservation can be achieved.

Another way to get involved with nature this winter is to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch which runs from 26-28 January 2024. People can register on the RSPB website from mid-December and spend an hour recording the birds they see in their gardens, on their balconies or in their local park on one of the designated days. It's a vital snapshot of how the UK's garden birds are faring, which are doing well and which are struggling and has been running for over 40 years.

Councillor Lyndon Piper - Lead Member for Leisure said:

"We're lucky in Torridge to live in an area that has such an abundant variety of wildlife and natural habitats to support them. While the coastline is also a great place for residents to escape outdoors with their pets we just need to be a bit more vigilant than usual during the winter months and don't allow our dogs to chase after the birds that flock to our shores. It's important that they recuperate and build up their energy reserves so they make it back safely to their spring breeding grounds and their numbers are preserved or improved."

16 November 2023


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