Why Survey Wintering Birds
In winter, the UK’s coastal habitats play host to large congregations of shorebirds, geese and ducks. These areas of salt marsh and mudflat are vital to sustaining a host of species over the long winter months before their migrations back to the breeding grounds in spring. During this time, such migratory species are especially vulnerable to disturbance. Surveying wintering birds is therefore especially useful for aiding conservation work.
With our team of professional Ecologists and Ornithologists, EcoNorth has a wealth of experience in carrying out wintering bird surveys. These surveys are designed to capture data on both wintering shorebirds and wildfowl communities, as well as the anthropogenic disturbance events to which such communities are exposed.
In the Field
Earlier this week, EcoNorth deployed to Sandwich and Pegwell Bay in Kent to undertake a wintering bird survey. This site is the first ever National Nature Reserve to be designated and our keen surveyors braved extremely challenging conditions there – onshore gales up to Beaufort Force 6 – to deliver accurate counts of a range of species, as part of an ongoing project to inform a site management plan.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the conditions, we didn’t see the variety of species we had expected. Only Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Shelduck, Brent Geese and one lonely Grey Plover were spotted within the study area. Whilst the diversity of birds was similar elsewhere on the site, the number was significantly greater with a roost of Cormorants building to over 2,000 individuals as the tide receded. Seeing part of the beach turn black with these densely packed seabirds was a sight to behold!
We were treated to the rather special sight of two Peregrines sunbathing on the beach and a fly-by from a Kingfisher. We were also able to spot groups of common seals swimming by.
For more detailed information on wintering bird surveys, please contact EcoNorth the team here.