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Bird disturbance explained

The Essex coast provides opportunities for recreation. Housing and consequent population growth in Essex is likely to increase the number of visitors to these sensitive coastal areas, creating the potential for impacts from increased recreational disturbance of the birds and their habitats, unless adequately managed.

Birds perceive people and their dogs as a threat. When people and dogs get too close, the birds sense danger and stop feeding. They may walk, swim or fly away. This means they lose valuable feeding time and waste precious energy.


If this disturbance happens often the birds may avoid the area completely. That means more competition for food elsewhere and some birds will be unable to find enough to eat. 

In cold, wet and windy weather birds use a lot of energy to keep warm and avoid predators.

Birds being disturbed is a significant issue as it means they become distracted from carrying out crucial activities such as feeding and resting, and whilst moving to a new location away from the disturbance they use up crucial energy which is needed over the winter months. Continual disturbance may result in a decline in birds as they cannot feed and rest properly, therefore may fail during the next breeding season.