From kingfishers to kestrels, the Beaulieu River is home to such a wide range of wildlife that it’s fairly easy to forget that you’re in the heavily populated South of England.
No matter what time of year, there are always interesting birds to see out on the Beaulieu River. Grey herons stalk the banks, whilst white egrets are common to see. Kingfishers are often present but are shyer and often harder to spot!
Copyright Graham Giddens
The river and its surroundings form part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest which offers habitats for some 200 species of birdlife. It is an important feeding ground and a lifeline for birds, with up to 125,000 wildfowl and wading birds visiting the Solent each winter.
Ornithologist Graham Giddens shares with us the birds which you’re likely to see throughout the year along the river.
Little Egret | All year round
This small white heron only colonised the south coast in the late 1980’s. They are now common along the River and breed nearby.
Black-headed Gull | All year round
The most common small gull of the region. Many nests around the Solent, but we also see them here in winter from as far as the Baltic.
Peregrine Falcon | All year round
Their reputation for power in flight is justly deserved and all of the ducks, waders and gulls on the River are well aware of the danger posed by a peregrine. One or two peregrines often sit on posts or shingle banks bordering the estuary.
Redshank | All year round
In winter large numbers of migrant redshank arrive from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to winter alongside our resident birds. In spring the migrants leave us, whilst the resident redshank settle down to nest in protected reserves alongside the River.
Black-tailed Godwit | Winter visitor & passage migrant – July to May
The results of many ringing studies have revealed that the black-tailed godwits that we often see in winter, have come from breeding grounds in Iceland.
Brent Goose | Winter visitor – September to April
The brent geese that we see on the River spend their summers on breeding grounds at the top of Russia. Many of them often winter in the Solent.
Sandwich Tern | Summer visitor – March to October
The Sandwich tern is named after the town in Kent, but is fairly common along the south coast. The Sandwich tern is one of three species of tern that stay to nest locally,
Osprey | Summer visitor – August to October
Ospreys are now breeding in good numbers in Scotland and therefore the River often hosts passage migrants from that population. Whilst on their way to winter grounds in West Africa, they stop off to feed on the grey mullet and flounder from the River.
Nesting season is soon to be approaching, so please help us by being aware of your surroundings and proceeding quietly. When birds are disturbed they waste valuable energy escaping and parents may not be able to attend to their young.
Copyright Graham Giddens
Remember dogs are not permitted access to the North Solent National Nature Reserve, and landing is only permitted at designated points upstream of the RSYC at Gins.
Graham runs guided bird-watching walks on the Beaulieu Estate. For details please see www.grahamgiddens.co.uk.