From April, eight arty birds will make their home around Shell Bay to raise awareness of an exciting project that’s coming to Studland in the autumn. Young artists from local youth groups and schools have painted the giant birds to help explain what the project is about. Those involved are Swanage Secondary, Sandford Primary, Montacute School, Dorset Wellbeing, Purbeck Youth & Community Foundation, Stoborough Primary, St Mary’s Swanage and Linwood School.
“The bird is called Steve. We really enjoyed decorating Steve for the National trust and hope that Steve can help raise awareness of the plight of the wading birds, thanks Steve” – Quote from Aquila Class at Linwood School
Wading birds travel long distances to rest and feed during the crucial winter months. Poole Harbour is a designated Special Protection Area and provides an important safe space for these wading birds. In the past, Shell Bay was home to a large gathering of 4,000-6,000 waders, including Dunlin, Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Ringed and Grey Plover, and Bar-tailed Godwit. Most of them spending time here between September and March. Now, Shell Bay attracts just a handful of birds.
If birds are repeatedly disturbed, they’ll abandon favoured roosting sites and not return in following years. It’s vital for birds to be able to feed and roost in quiet zones as they need to keep all their energy reserves as high as possible for their long migrations.
To help protect and restore this once productive and important roost site at Shell Bay, a partnership project between National Trust, Birds of Poole Harbour, Natural England and the Birds and Recreation Initiative are installing a trial ‘Wader Protection Area’ which will provide a safe section of Shell Beach away from people, dogs, and horses where waders can quietly roost during the winter. It will also provide an opportunity to see what species take advantage of these safe spaces and could potentially set a framework for similar installations at other busy sites in Poole Harbour.
“Be aware of birds and don’t scare” – Quote from Year 3 at St Mary’s Primary School
We’ve mapped out the area, the orange shows the coastal footpath, and the yellow box shows where the wader fence will go. The coastal footpath will remain accessible, and you will be able to walk on both sides of the wader fence during most times of the year. It is only during a high Spring tide, that you may not be able to walk on the seaside of the fence.
It has been a real pleasure to work with the young artists of Purbeck and Dorset, they are an inspirational lot and their passion for these wading birds truly shows in their artwork. The schools and youth groups have been buzzing with energy and highlighted some interesting ideas for us. This is the landscape they will grow up in, and it is wonderful to have the youth involved in the restoration process.
Written by Paul Morton from Birds of Poole Harbour, and Joanna Manning & Julia Galbenu from National Trust.
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