As the Government gears up towards the latest round of protected marine zone consultations, RSPB’s senior policy officer Gareth Cunningham has been touring England’s best sites for seabirds. He’s ditched the formal trousers for leathers and hopped on his bike, on an exciting journey to highlight some of our amazing coastal wildlife.
Spring is a fantastic time to live in the UK, especially if you love seabirds. The cliffs and coasts come alive with the calls of seabirds frantically finding their mate and the ideal nesting spot. As you may already know Britain is home to over 8 million seabirds and is one (if not) of the most important countries in Europe for iconic species such as puffins, razorbills and gannets. Our rich waters provide feeding grounds for seabirds and their hungry chicks, including globally important populations of some species.
You may recall last year the RSPB called on the UK Government to fully protect the areas used by our seabirds. Apart from sites for over wintering Black necked Grebe, all the proposed sites are essential to protect our seabirds during the busy, but relatively short, breeding season.
Gareth at the start of his epic journey
To fully showcase these amazing sites and demonstrate just how accessible they are for us all, I travelled the coasts of England on my motorbike in May and visited each of our proposed sites. Filming not only some of the amazing wildlife that lives there, but also the people working to manage and protect these vital locations. In total I covered over 2000 miles in 10 days. A relatively short distance compared to the journeys made by the seabirds returning to our shores to breed.
This summer the UK Government will consult on its third and final tranche of Marine Conservation Zones, we hope that they too recognise the importance of these sites and afford them the protection they need to ensure our cliffs and coasts remain vibrant, noisy, homes for seabirds.
In the meantime, here’s a short video I made after the longest day of riding of the whole trip (300+ miles of motorway!). Over the next few weeks I’ll be uploading a short video of each site and writing some blogs to go alongside. So, check back here for updates. Fingers crossed, by showcasing these fantastic sites the UK Government will agree with us and afford these sites the protection they so desperately need.
You can also check out the trip as it happened and keep up to date with the latest news via twitter: @seabirdbiker