Appeal for volunteer beach wardens to support rare wildlife

Appeal for volunteer beach wardens to support rare wildlife
Baby little tern on the beach calling for its fish supper, North East Norfolk, Lyn Ibbitson-Elks.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is on the search for volunteer wardens to help protect and monitor rare birds at NWT Holme Dunes nature reserve and its neighbouring beaches.

Over half of England’s most threatened breeding birds nest on the ground and for some, including ringed plover, little tern and oystercatcher, Norfolk’s coastline is a vital stronghold during the spring and summer.

After a long journey – in the case of little terns from Africa – the birds settle down on our coast to raise a family. During this time, they face many challenges including disturbance, rising sea levels and predators.

In the last 35 years, the population of ringed plovers in Norfolk has declined by a shocking 79 per cent, with just 123 pairs recorded in 2018.

WEB plover

Little Ringed Plover Derek_Moore

Norfolk is the most important county in the UK for nesting little terns. In 2021 almost half of the UK population (roughly 691 pairs) of these birds were attempting to nest across the North and East of Norfolk.

Oystercatcher numbers are also dropping, seeing them join the little tern on the Amber list of conservation concern.

WEB Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher with chick Theo de Clermont

To help beach-nesting bird populations to recover, organisations such as Norfolk Wildlife Trust protect and monitor these avian tourists during their annual visit to our shores, with the support of volunteer beach wardens.

To help give these special birds enough space to raise their families Norfolk Wildlife Trust are keen for Holme Dunes beach visitors to understand the need to keep a distance from special fenced-off nesting areas on the beach, to be vigilant for the tiny chicks that may be feeding on the shoreline, and to keep their dogs under effective control.

Tori Backham, Assistant Warden at NWT Holme Dunes, explains: “Our beach wardens act as guardians to our vulnerable beach-nesting birds. They support our wildlife by patrolling the beaches, helping the public to understand the importance of looking after these special species, as well as recording bird behaviour and nesting activity.

“This vital work would not be possible without the help of a band of friendly, enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. If you feel passionate about making a difference and you have some spare time to give, we’d love to hear from you. It’s such an important job and an incredibly beautiful setting – there's really no better place to be!”
Norfolk Wildlife Trust are looking for people with a passion for wildlife who enjoy talking to the public. The role doesn’t require you to have background knowledge of the birds and their behaviours as training will be provided by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
For more information, visit www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/volunteering or email Alan: alanm@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

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