Islanders are being asked to help protect Jersey’s coastal and seabirds for World Migratory Bird Day.
Resident and migrant birds are preparing to breed now but it may be a difficult year because many seabirds are in poor condition following severe winter storms earlier this year.
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an annual global event that celebrates bird migration and raises awareness of the threats migratory birds face. Migratory birds connect all corners and almost every environment of the world along their migration paths so conserving these species and their habitats is difficult because they may span several countries.
This year’s theme is ‘Migratory Birds and Tourism’ which is particularly relevant to Jersey, according to the Department of the Environment Research Ecologist Nina Cornish, “Jersey’s natural environment is a key attraction for visitors, our coastline offers great opportunities for activities such as hiking, wildlife watching and kayaking and is much enjoyed by locals too, but in doing so users are asked to watch out for and respect the presence of nesting seabirds.
“We’re using World Migration Day as an opportunity to remind people of bird-friendly ways to behave in coastal or countryside areas to limit the disturbance of birds – particularly around their breeding and feeding sites and hope that people will pass the message on.”
Nesting birds are particularly vulnerable as their nests may be on the ground and close to coastal paths. The most vulnerable species of seabirds breeding in Jersey and the offshore reefs include terns, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, cormorants and oystercatchers.
A marine and coastal wildlife watching code of practice advises people to avoid actions that change birds’ natural behaviour. It’s important to keep noise to a minimum; avoid approaching bird colonies, roosts, and never walk through a nesting site or feeding flocks as repeated disturbance can have a devastating effect on the birds and may cause irreversible damage to nests or nesting birds.