As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Dogs, drones and microlights – it’s a bird’s life trying not to be disturbed


The RSPB is appealing for visitors to the Westcountry’s estuaries to put wildlife first, in the hope it stops incidents of wintering birds being disturbed. The problem is particularly acute on the Exe estuary, where thousands of geese, ducks and waders congregate, including winter-residents and migratory birds passing through. But many other of the Westcountry’s estuaries also hold internationally important numbers of wintering birds, and the last thing they need is to be disturbed by people, their dogs, or by machinery of one kind or another.

Dogs not being kept on leads where birds are gathered are a perennial problem, which has now been joined by contemporary menaces, such as intrusive drones and, occasionally, microlight aircraft being flown above flocks at very low altitude. The Exe estuary’s large flock of Brent geese offer an example: every year thousands arrive after their 3,000-mile journey from Siberia, and the last thing they need is to waste energy flying around after being disturbed by people, dogs, drones, or microlights. 

Peter Otley, site manager for the RSPB’s Exe estuary reserves, said: “The Exe is one of the best places in the UK to see geese, ducks and waders in winter, it’s a wonderful but fragile place and the birds are sensitive to disturbance. “So we urge everybody to put wildlife first if they visit the estuary and are near estuary’s birds. “You can’t miss the flocks, they’re obvious, from the air as well as on land, so please keep your distance and let the birds go about their business in peace.” Autumn and winter is a great time to watch waterfowl and waders and the RSPB has some advice for making the most of birding trips to the region’s estuaries: A spokesman said: “Waders and other estuary species, such as avocet, black-tailed godwit and widgeon, feed on exposed mud at low tide and roost above the tide line when the water covers their feeding grounds. 

“Favoured areas of shingle and mud sometimes draw thousands of birds together as they wait for the tide to fall again. It’s best to get in a good viewing position an hour or two beforehand, so that you can see the birds fly in, and, of course, avoid disturbing them as you come and go.” 

Ends For further information, images, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Chris Baker, RSPB Communications Officer, 01392 453299 / 07701 050010
Notes: The RSPB’s recently refurbished hide at Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, is a superb place to see many of the waterfowl that congregate on the Exe estuary, and the high tide roost makes it one of the best places to see birds in South West England. Thinking of taking up bird watching? The RSPB is running a taster session at Dart’s Farm on November 3, in advance of its popular Birdwatching for Beginners course, beginning in March next year. The evening will include talks on migration of birds to the area in autumn and winter, the importance of the Exe for wildlife, and on some of the skills involved in becoming a birdwatcher, together with information about the full course.
Booking is essential and the taster session costs £10 (free to RSPB members).
Booking and further information on 01392 432691 or by email: Chris Baker Communications Officer Tel: 01392 453299 Mobile: 07701 050010

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