If you have read the write up from our recent RSPB trip around Langstone Harbour you’ll know that even though we live in such a densely populated city we’re lucky to have lots of wildlife living in and around Portsmouth. For birds each season brings flocks of new birds to call the city and harbours home, if only for a short while before travelling (sometimes thousands of miles) onwards.
We’re working with the local RSPB team to suggest three birds to keep your eye out for each season, beginning with summer. Summer attracts many birds to Portsmouth to nest and breed new generations of birds that will return year in year out. These first three birds are Langstone Harbour favourites and can be spotted fairly easily by the naked eye or with binoculars or a camera.
Speaking of cameras, we’re running a competition where we want all you budding wildlife photographers to send in your photos of the three birds for the season. Photo each one and send them in and the RSPB team will pick their favourites for each bird. The three winners will win some Strong Island and RSPB prizes. Obviously, goes without saying, that we recommend you photo the birds from a distance where you will not disturb their nests, chicks, etc.
Send in your bird photos via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and label the email RSPB and be sure to send them in by the end of AUGUST for a chance to win.
The three birds the RSPB suggest you keep an eye out for this summer are:
The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight, it shows a wide white wing-stripe, a black tail, and a white rump that extends as a ‘V’ between the wings. Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited. They are commonly seen in the harbour, we know they breed here, though how successfully we don’t know.
The little egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on crest, back and chest, black legs and bill and yellow feet. It first appeared in the UK in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in Dorset in 1996. The RSPB was formed to counter the barbarous trade in plumes for women’s hats, a fashion responsible for the destruction of many thousands of egrets and other species who’s plumes had become fashionable in the late Victorian era.
The Sandwich tern is a very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips and it has a short forked tail. The Sandwich tern is one of 3 species of tern that breed in Langstone Harbour and this year looks to be promising so far. In the UK many of the important colonies survive because they are on Nature Reserves.
We’re looking forward to seeing the results!