Multi-million pound project to protect endangered waders around Morecambe Bay this winter

Gambette knight in search of food. Photo Andy Hay, RSPB Images

The UK is internationally important for migrating and wintering coastal birds. Each fall, endangered species such as the curlew, bar-tailed godwit, golden plover, brent geese and short-billed goose flock to the coasts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of birds congregate in the main estuaries, including Morecambe Bay. It is estimated that 20% of European curlews winter in the British Isles.

The evocative calls of curlew, prawn and flocks of geese are the first sign of autumn for many people. Intertidal mudflats and salt marsh habitat around estuaries and English coasts are important feeding and resting places for these birds. Yet, as sea level rises and erosion around the coast increases, there are fewer and fewer places these birds can nest, roost and feed undisturbed.

The Life on the Edge Project is an innovative landscape-scale conservation project, creating and restoring coastal habitat at seven sites across England, in partnership with the National Trust, Natural England, Environment Agency and Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

The RSPB is working with partners to create more space for endangered wildlife through this £ 3.4million project, funded by the EU’s Nature and Biodiversity fund LIFE. Local habitats like Hodbarrow and the Duddon Estuary, which are part of the Morecambe Bay Partnership, are a vital refuge for endangered species, but their restoration can also help capture carbon.

Leigh Lock, Head of Species Recovery Project Development, said: “Salt marshes, which form naturally along coastal margins, actually store more carbon per square meter than trees.

“In this natural and climate emergency, we must use all possible tools to keep the carbon in the soil. Salt marshes and mudflats can also act as a barrier against winter storm surges, protecting coastal homes from flooding, bringing benefits to both people and wildlife.

“By developing community initiatives and projects like this, we hope to provide a model for decision-makers who have the power to restore even more of our eroding coastal habitats in the future. ”

Many birds that feed around the coasts need to eat huge amounts of invertebrates each day just to survive the country’s colder winters, so any time and energy they devote to evading predators can really put them in. danger. They often perceive movement as a threat, which means that a dog running across mudflats or a shadow passing overhead can cause them to fly away, burning off valuable energy.

If you want to get up close and personal with some of these amazing birds, the best way to see them without disturbing them is to see them from a cache or screen in one of the nature reserves. RSPB members enjoy free entry to all reserves.

The RSPB works closely with partners and communities to protect wildlife across its network of over 200 UK nature reserves and the wider countryside. To find out more about RSPB reserves and projects near you, or to help fund the charity’s vital work to protect wildlife, visit

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