Helping the birds of the Bay

Thu, 2016-12-22 11:15
Natural Ambassadors

Did you know thousands of waders and wildfowl feed on the Bay's sands and mudflats? It's the second most important place for wintering birds in the UK.

Sadly there have been declines in the number of overwintering birds. Unintentional disturbance by people is cited as one of the problems. The main issue is around the high tide period when birds can’t access their food and their sole focus is on saving energy and keeping warm. When birds take flight they use 12 times as much energy, eating into vital resources which keep them alive through the winter.

On high tides, there are certain roosts where birds are particularly vulnerable. Many of the most important roosts in the Bay are at popular places where people are walking, such as Bolton le Sands or Hest Bank. As the tide comes in, the birds move to wherever they can feed and rest, heading for saltmarsh, sandbanks, shingle, rocks and the shoreline. These roosts are vital for resting and re-fuelling, so that the birds can survive the winter and stay in good enough condition to migrate successfully to their breeding grounds. 

There is little information out there to tell people about what an incredibly wonderful and important place the Bay is for wildfowl and waders, and how vulnerable birds are at certain times. We want people to enjoy the Bay responsibly as well as enjoying the wonderful birds that we are privileged to host over the autumn and winter months. 

The Natural Ambassadors Project is one of a range of approaches to achieve this.

Natural Ambassadors will show people the birds, educate and inspire regular users and visitors to the Bay, and guide people as to the best way to avoid disturbing the birds.

This initiative is one of a suite of ways we can improve the conditions for our wintering birds. We are planning for on-site information and a wider publicity campaign. We also want to work with local communities to develop awareness using the arts. We are currently working with landowners, parish councils and other conservation organisations to protect our wintering birds. 

Annabelle Kennedy, Natural Heritage Officer at Morecambe Bay Partnership said ‘This is fabulous opportunity for people to really make a difference, and inspire and enthuse others that use the Bay regularly.  Natural Ambassadors will also learn new skills, meet new people, and make a worthwhile difference to the understanding of the Bay's birds. After all, how can people care about something that they know little about?'

VOLUNTEERS WANTED: Friendly, approachable volunteers to help people learn about the birds that use the Bay as a vital stop-off.

Join us (Tues 17 Jan 7pm) for free training; a hot supper and learn about the Bay's birds and how you can get involved. Full details.

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