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Essex Wildlife Trust and RSPB advise the public to ‘Share our Shores’ with beach-nesting birds this summer

03 Jul Essex Wildlife Trust and RSPB advise the public to ‘Share our Shores’ with beach-nesting birds this summer

Not all birds nest in trees and hedges. Some, like the brightly-beaked oystercatcher, ringed plover and little tern, nest on beaches.

Little terns are the UK’s smallest tern and one of the rarest breeding seabirds. Migrating from West Africa to the Essex coastline to breed, this 5,000 km journey is a long one for a bird weighing the same as a tennis ball. However, the little tern is one of the UK’s most vulnerable bird species, with numbers declining since the 1980s.

There are many pressures facing beach-nesting birds. Climate change causes coastal flooding and rising sea levels, flooding nests and washing eggs away. Human disturbance also poses a major threat, as beach users or dog walker disturbance can force birds to abandon nests, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to predation and the cold.

In collaboration with RSPB and Essex Marine Police, Essex Wildlife Trust’s campaign ‘Share our Shores’ urges the public to follow simple guidelines whilst they’re enjoying the beach this summer to ensure endangered beach-nesting birds can lay their eggs and raise their chicks safely on the Essex coastline.

As we welcome warmer weather, help protect little terns and other beach-nesting birds by following these steps:

Know where they are – Colne Point, Old Hall Marshes and Tollesbury Wick beach are amongst the main sites along the Blackwater and Colne Estuaries for breeding birds.

Respect zoned-off areas – If you see signage and rope, this is a “no go” zone from April-August as these sites are protected for wildlife.

Avoid disturbance by boat – Only land boats on designated moorings and landing areas, keep water spots away from shoreline, minimise noise near breeding sites.

Back away – if you see a breeding species, back away. Short, sharp alarm calls will notify you are too close to young.

Spread the word – Raise awareness of beach-nesting birds and report bad behaviour to local wildlife crime officers by calling the police on 101.

Rachel Langley, Living Seas Coordinator at Essex Wildlife Trust, says:
“We are thrilled to be working with RSPB and the Essex Marine Police to protect our coastal wildlife. If we can raise public awareness and help people share our shores with beach-nesting birds, Essex’s coastal bird populations can thrive again.”

For more information, and to download resources for Share our Shores, visit Essex Wildlife Trust’s website: