A new Wader Protection Area has been created in Dorset to provide a quiet and safe place for wading birds to roost without being disturbed.  

New fencing has been positioned on one of the quietest spots of the National Trust owned beach at Shell Bay in Studland, in an area which currently has bird life but could be greatly improved.  

David Brown, National Trust’s programme manager in Purbeck said: "Shell Bay was once an important habitat for a range of special wading birds such as dunlin, sanderling, oystercatcher, ringed and grey plover as well as bar-tailed godwit, most of them spending time here between September and March.

"Having migrated several thousands of kilometres each year, upon their arrival to Poole Harbour they need quiet, undisturbed areas to rest on the high tide, as well as food rich, quiet areas to feed during the low-tide.  

‘Shell Bay is also a popular place for visitors, and sadly increased disturbance for our wading birds at Studland has seen their numbers here fall to almost zero in recent decades.

"We hope this new Wader Protection Area will protect and restore one part of this once important roost site, providing the undisturbed space they need to begin to thrive here again.

"It will also give us the opportunity to see what species take advantage of this space.

"And visitors will still be able walk on both sides of the fencing in all but the highest tides, when they can walk around the back of the fencing, and through the dunes."

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Poole Harbour – one of the largest natural harbours in the world providing a haven for wildlife - is a designated Special Protection Area, therefore creating safe havens for over-wintering waders is vital.

If birds are repeatedly disturbed, they’ll abandon favoured roosting sites and not return in following years.  

The new 200m x 40m Wader Protection Area will be in place from September 2022 initially for a two-year trial period. 

THe project is a partnership between the National Trust, Birds of Poole Harbour, Dynamic Dunescapes and the Birds and Recreation Initiative.

Paul Morton from Birds of Poole Harbour said: "This new wader protection zone is one of several important bird conservation initiatives that are currently going on around the harbour and its installation couldn’t be more timely.

"The harbour and its surrounding shorelines are becoming increasingly busy with people enjoying everything Poole Harbour has to offer.

"However there has to be a balance and the increase in activity can’t be to the detriment of our environment and protected areas. 

"During the winter Pilots Point at Shell Bay historically held a high tide roost of several thousand wading birds and it’s hoped that by protecting a large area of Shell Beach we can encourage some of those birds to return, providing them the respite they need on cold winter days.’