PROJECT: Bird Aware Solent
ORGANISATIONS INVOLVED: Natural England, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, local councils and conservation groups
Britain’s south coast might not seem very hospitable to its human inhabitants in the depths of winter, but for birds such as black-tailed godwits, brent geese, turnstones and wigeon that breed in the High Arctic, it’s like the French Riviera.
Equally importantly, its mudflats and saltmarshes are packed with food for these migrants, some of which will have flown 3,000 miles to get here and must build up their fat reserves before returning north in the spring. The UK’s relatively mild climate offers a number of internationally significant overwintering areas for waders and wildfowl, and around the Solent alone, there are three sites designated under European legislation. An estimated 125,000 birds descend on them as they seek refuge from the Arctic chill.