By Romano da Costa and Glyn Young
Many bird species in Jersey are endangered locally or globally. Their survival depends on their chances to feed and breed safely. Birdwatching and bird photography may cause disturbance to birds, and, in certain circumstances, this disturbance might cause them harm or even death. The following is a simple good practice code of conduct that puts the interest of birds first and offers simple advice on how to enjoy birdwatching and bird photography whilst minimising the disturbance to the birds or their habitats:
- Avoid getting too close to birds, if a bird flies away you’re too close! Do not be tempted to keep chasing the bird (some birds will freeze when approached). If a bird is making repeated alarm calls you are also too close
- Stay on roads, footpaths or in bird hides to avoid going too close to birds or walking through their habitats. Disturbing habitats is just as bad as disturbing the bird itself
- Think about your fieldcraft. Disturbance is not just about going too close – a flock of wading birds on the foreshore can be disturbed from a distance if you stand on the seawall or walk directly towards them while a bird of prey on a kill will abandon it if you get too close!
- DO NOT use playback or birdsong recordings to lure out hidden birds or to make them sing at any time of year. Provoking this behaviour may cause unnecessary stress to the bird, make it waste vital energy, keep it from feeding its mate or young, and put it at increased risk from predators. You may also be breaking the Law
- DO NOT use flash when photographing birds at night. This might distract the birds or daze them, making them more vulnerable to predators
- Know the law: Disturbing a wild bird feeding, roosting or at its nest or nesting area is an offence under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000
- Make your sightings count: Report your observations in the records book at the hides or
- If you witness anyone who you suspect may be illegally disturbing or destroying wildlife or its habitat, phone the Police on 01534 612612 or the Department of the Environment on 01534 441600.
A copy of the code can be downloaded here