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Plovers in Peril: Your support this season has helped make 2022 a success for ringed plover on Snettisham and Heacham South beach

Thank you sign made by Snettisham Beach Sailing Club's junior members. Image credit Wynona Legg
Sign made by Snettisham Beach Sailing Club junior members

Published: Wednesday, 19th October 2022

Published on behalf of RSPB.

The support of local communities has given a vital boost to vulnerable beach nesting birds breeding on a stretch of coast from Snettisham to Heacham. With the help of mindful locals and visitors, 36 vulnerable ringed plover chicks have taken flight from these shores this year – almost double the number that fledged last year.

The RSPB led project ‘Plovers in Peril’, delivered in partnership with Wild Ken Hill, aims to halt the worrying declines in breeding numbers of ringed plover and oystercatcher on these two beaches by giving them much needed protection and raising awareness of their plight to visitors. The team of staff and volunteers working on the project want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the local community for supporting these birds by keeping dogs on leads and keeping a safe distance from fenced-off nesting areas during their most vulnerable time of year.

Generous funding from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk as part of the Habitats Monitoring and Mitigation fund has enabled the project to continue protecting the vulnerable birds on these two busy beaches for another five years; and with local communities, mindful beach goers and a team of dedicated volunteers and staff all watching over them, 36 chicks have taken to the skies this season– that’s almost double last year’s total of 19! A fantastic result for the project after only its second season and a timely boost for a bird in Global decline.

Cllr Paul Kunes, Cabinet member for Environment and CO2 reduction at the borough council, said:

“The work undertaken by the RSPB in Snettisham and Heacham, led by enthusiastic Project Officer, Wynona Legg, has protected many vulnerable birds. I’m pleased the borough council can support this through the Habitats Monitoring and Mitigation Fund.”

These two beaches are well loved by both local people and visitors from further afield who come to enjoy the wild open spaces, stunning scenery, and unique wildlife. For perhaps the most iconic feature of this coast - the birds who make their nests on the sand during our great British summer - the challenges appear to be endless (and with a changing climate, this list is set to grow further still).

Despite the challenges facing them, these charismatic birds are remarkably tenacious - trying again and again when their eggs or chicks are lost too soon but these birds need the help of their communities if they are to thrive alongside us; and in this case, the support shown by the communities of Snettisham and Heacham has thrown these birds a real lifeline.

Project Officer Wynona shared her thoughts about the support offered by the community:

“We have received so many offers of help from people within our communities, moved by the plight of these birds living on their doorstep, that our volunteer team is always growing! These people are showing up for these birds every day of the week, rain or shine to chat with visitors, explain restrictions and build support for these birds in hope of securing them a brighter future. It is truly inspiring.”

It’s not just volunteers though, local organisations have been pledging their support for the project too and amongst others, the project team have enjoyed working alongside Snettisham Beach Sailing Club to raise awareness of beach nesting birds amongst sailors young and old.

Snettisham Beach Sailing Club shared their support for the project, saying:

"SBSC are passionate about working closely with the RSPB to help protect the nesting birds here. Our Junior sailors and families have enjoyed a tour of the nesting sites, seeing first-hand the impact we have on their survival and with this knowledge they have helped to design thank you signs to be displayed outside the sailing club. Building links through educating our next generation is paramount and we look forward to continue working with the RSPB!"

Project Officer Wynona echoes her heartfelt thanks to the community:

“It has been moving to see so many people within the local community taking pride in the wildlife that makes this coast so special, taking action to help it thrive and actively inspiring others to do the same. It shows us just how much can be achieved when people pull together to be custodians for nature; and for beach nesting birds- it may just be the key to their success.”

Dominic Buscall, Project Manager at Wild Ken Hill said:

“I’d like to join the RSPB in thanking local residents and visitors their help conserving these wonderful beach-nesting birds. By continuing to work together, we can ensure a better future for these species.”

Whilst there is still a lot to do to ensure beach nesting birds have a future here, the success of this season brings hope for these iconic birds who love Snettisham and Heacham just as much as we do!

Thank you for protecting beach nesting birds by supporting us in our work.

Follow us the journey to protect these amazing birds. Join in the conversation on the RSPB Facebook and Twitter pages, share your stories and photos and help us speak out about how to help vulnerable beach nesting species like the Ringed Plover. Remember to tag us: #PloversInPeril #RSPBSnettisham #WatchYourStep

For more information about the Plovers in Peril project or to register your interest for volunteering in the 2023 season please contact

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