Dog put feeding birds to flight

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 10 June 2010

Last Thursday afternoon (February 5), an unusually large flock of wading birds was feeding on the foreshore off Imperial Recreation Ground on the ebbing tide when an excited, exuberant spaniel appeared on the foreshore. Inevitably, the dog spotted t

Last Thursday afternoon (February 5), an unusually large flock of wading birds was feeding on the foreshore off Imperial Recreation Ground on the ebbing tide when an excited, exuberant spaniel appeared on the foreshore. Inevitably, the dog spotted the bird flock and charged out through the shallow water to put the birds to flight, circling to make sure that no other targets remained.This was a flock of around 1,000-plus winter migrants to the Exe Estuary - bar-tailed godwits, sanderling, redshank, grey and ringed plovers, knot, turnstones and large numbers of dunlin and oystercatchers. The ebbing tide provides their principal feeding opportunity around the foreshore and it lasts for a very limited time. Total disturbance by dogs deliberately chasing the birds from their feeding ground is serious, and a deterrent to migrants making use of our estuary.Sadly, occurrences of such disturbance are not unusual, albeit often on a smaller scale. May I appeal for dog owners using this foreshore in winter to understand the needs of the birds at this time of year and to control their dogs in order to prevent this type of deliberate chasing, especially of the smaller birds, - enjoyable though it may be for the dog.The area of the estuary from Lower Halsdon Farm to the Imperial Recreation Ground is designated as a local nature reserve within the overall SSSI status of the whole Exe Estuary. How do we create a greater awareness of its importance, particularly in winter?Rupert Ormerod,5 Mayfield Drive, Exmouth.

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