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SHORELINE ADVENTURES

SHORELINE ADVENTURES

Humans are drawn to the shoreline for the sounds of the water, bird calls and the quietness of the space in between. We find it an invigorating and connecting place to be for so many reasons but nature is a big part of why the shoreline feels special and connects us with our wilder selves.

TOP TIPS TO HELP BIRDS THRIVE

LOOK OUT FOR BIRDS ON THE SHORELINE

Take a minute before setting off  to notice the birdlife and landscape around you.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE FROM A DISTANCE

Keeping your distance helps reduce stress and allows birds to save energy reserves.

TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE

If you see birds resting of feeding along the shoreline, walk higher up the shoreline to avoid disturbing them, they may be hungry and tired from long migrations.

AMAZING SHORELINE

The shoreline is also incredible for birdlife, as the tide goes out it reveals sand or mud flats which are full of nutrient rich foods like worms, crustaceans and marine insects and throughout the year but especially in winter you’ll see lots of birds wading and feeding along the shoreline as they try to restore the energy they lost over long migrations. As the tide comes back in many of these birds will find shelter on land to digest their food and rest. This is called roosting, but sometimes you’ll see also them in fields if they are still hungry, where they search out earth worms and insects.

IMPORTANT HABITATS

Poole harbour is known as a coastal lagoon which support some incredible birdlife, it’s made up of intertidal sediments known as mudflats or sand flats, saltmarsh, and reedbeds.

Saltmarsh

Half land half sea! Salt marsh is boggy marshy soil that salt tolerant grasses can grow on.  They form when silts settle in slow flowing areas of the harbour and then pioneer plants (called that because they are the first to arrive) establish themselves and trap even more sediment, creating a marshy area.  These wetland habitats are incredible for birds who use them to roost (rest) in safety away from terrestrial predators (foxes) and us (because humans and canines are perceived as predators).

Reedbeds

These are dense areas of reeds that have grown beside the open water as they can withstand being submerged. They are great roosting places as birds can hide amongst the tall reeds to stay safe and they provide a food source for fish eating birds.

Mudflats & Sandflats

These areas where a slow flowing tide has carried sediments like silt or clay which has settled and created a fertile and rich ‘flat’.  These areas of mud or sand are revealed by the lowering of the tide. It is packed with with marine insects, crustaceans and worms which are all nutrient dense foods for wading birds.
In each layer of mud lives a different type of food source and the birds’ beaks vary in length and shape depending on what they eat and how far down in the mud they need to probe for their food.

WHAT IS DISTURBANCE
AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

What is disturbance?

  • Any human activity that influences a bird’s behaviour and ultimately its survival
  • Birds become aware of your presence and move away or become more alert
  • They flush (fly away suddenly) the ultimate disturbance!

Why does it matter?

  • As Poole Harbour becomes busier the birds become more alert more often and this burns up calories
  • Moving or flying away costs the birds vital energy that takes a long time to replace
  • Short daylight feeding hours in the winter mean the birds have limited time to feed, especially if low tide clashes with nightfall
  • Many species have long migration journeys so need to build up energy stores to survive the flight

How do I know when birds are being disturbed?

  • Birds will call louder to each other when they feel threatened, as an alert!
  • They will move away from you by walking or swimming to keep a safe distance.
  • They will fly away (flushing) using vital energy reserves that take a long time to replace.

Why do birds need your help?

  • Many species make long migrations to spend winter in Poole Harbour. Once here they need to feed and build up their strength.
  • Harbour birds eat when the tide is low, and the mud and sand is exposed as this is where their food is.
  • This means they have a very limited time to eat. If they are disturbed regularly, they can’t eat enough in one day.
  • As Poole Harbour becomes busier its harder for birds to feed and rest without being disturbed by people.

WHAT IS THE WARDENS ROLE?

The initiative aims to keep Poole Harbour wild for us and natures’ benefit. There are simple ways that people using the shoreline for leisure activities can behave to ensure it stays as wonderful as it is, even with a growing local population.
Our coastal engagement warden patrols the harbour sharing information and knowledge of the birdlife with locals and visitors, so if you see them stop and take a look through the telescope. There are so many activities and growing amounts of people from dog walkers, hikers and cycling that pressure is put upon the shoreline habitat, but this also means there are more people to champion and support nature by enjoying it in a sustainable way.

DORSET DOGS PARTNERSHIP

The companionship of dogs is wonderful for the health and well-being of people. If that goes hand-in-hand with responsible dog ownership there are great benefits not just for people but also for the value and care given to our coast, countryside, greenspaces and the wildlife who live there.