Wildlife-friendly beach cleans

Beach cleaning is invaluable for removing litter, including plastics and so many other potentially harmful items, to protect our local harbours, waterways and seas. However, it’s also really important to be conscious of the impact of our beach cleaning activity on wildlife at the very beaches we are trying to protect! We have teamed up with Bird Aware Solent, the Marine Conservation Society and the 2 Minute Beach Clean to produce a handy guide for running ‘wildlife-friendly beach cleans’.

Why is it needed?

All the coastal areas that require litter picks are also habitat and food sources for wildlife.

Coastal birds in winter: When birds are disturbed, they stop feeding or resting and may even fly away. If birds can feed and rest undisturbed, they will have more energy to survive. Many coastal birds do not stay here all year, they migrate to different parts of the world to nest. Migratory birds need to rest and refuel, building up energy reserves for their journey back. If they are well-rested and fed when they leave their winter home, they are more likely to arrive in their breeding grounds with enough energy to breed successfully – successful breeding seasons are essential for maintaining population numbers.

Coastal birds in summer: Some coastal birds like lapwing and curlew, do not migrate away to nest.

Instead, they remain here and become ground-nesting birds. Their nests are often unprotected aside from camouflage. Camouflage is super for keeping predators away, but it works against these birds with people and dogs in the picture; it makes them very hard to see for people and very tempting for dogs who sniff them out rather than look for them. Always be mindful, that pebble may be an egg or a pebble-coloured bird.

Seals: Seals often ‘haul out’ (come ashore) to rest, moult, breed and feed pups.

When they react to human presence, they lose the chance to do these things. Additionally, pups can get trampled in a stampede back into the water.