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On the beaches of the Cotentin, the birds that are born are in danger

The Kentish Plover can live up to 10 years. (©Lucie Papin.)

the Cotentin constitutes, for interrupted collared ploversthe main breeding ground In the region.

Every year in Normandybetween the months of April and August, these birds considered to be near threatened nest on the ground on beaches. “The species reproduces along the coast, between the sea line, where algae waste accumulates, and the top of the beach”, specifies Richard Grège, ornithologist at LPO-Normandy.

Problem: the tourists tend to involuntarily trample the nests, while walking around. Without counting dogs who wander, loose on a leash, “a disaster” for Richard Grège.

Human overcrowding has a significant impact on plovers populations, as their breeding environment is very restricted.

Already several actions

Especially since the species is mimetic. “The color of individuals resembles that of its environment. They are almost invisible. The eggs cannot be seen at all”, warns Sophie Poncet, marine bird project manager at the delegation of Channel-North Sea coastline the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), which finances the “Beach Breeding Limicoles Action Strategy”, for monitoring populations, protecting nests and raising public awareness, on the scale of the Channel Sea coast of the North since 2021, and of which the Norman Ornithological Group (GONm) is the coordinator.

Awareness-raising actions have been carried out for a dozen years.
Awareness-raising actions have been carried out for a dozen years. (©DR)

“The actors of this strategy carry out several actions to inform people of the presence of species on the beaches, with pictograms and panels installed on the premises, the establishment of enclosures around the nests, the distribution of stickers, posters and postcards,” explains the project manager.

A special operation

The risk of trampling the nests on the beaches is make disappear the breeder species, protected, which counts only 1,500 pairs in France including 250 in Normandy. The LPO already considers that it is rare in Normandy, being rather well established on the East Coast and the southern part of the west coast of the Channel.

Faced with this danger, the LPO, the Conservatoire du littoral, the OFB, the National Forestry Office and Rivages de France have joined forces to third consecutive year as part of thenational operation “Be careful, we are walking on eggshells! “. Objective :

Videos: currently on Actu

Make coastal users and beach managers aware of respect for the wildlife that shares these spaces.

Several actions

If the ring-necked plover is mainly concerned in Normandy, other birds lay eggs by the sea elsewhere in France, such as the great plovers or the little tern. Several actions are carried out by nature protection actors to ward off the danger around these feathered animals.

By informing the public, by alerting the services responsible for maintaining the beaches, by identifying or even isolating the nests with educational markers, it has been possible to spare threatened coastal biodiversity.

The partners of the operation “Attention, we are walking on eggshells!”in a press release

The latter had allowed, last year, flight of ” several hundred chicks which would not have survived without the intervention of local teams”. For this 2022 edition, the identification of installations has already begun, in conjunction with the communities. Of the animation teams will also mobilize to raise public awareness.

Simple gestures to better live together

the audienceprecisely, can adopt simple gestures so as not to destroy the nests of Kentish Plover while walking on the beaches. “You have to keep your dog on a leash and stay on the marked trails when they are, checking that access to the site is authorized”, encourages Richard Grège. The electrically assisted vehicles, “a real scourge”, are also prohibited. Also avoid “marked areas with signage specific to the operation”.

the waste collection is to be avoided. “It’s too dangerous for birds, even more so on the sea line. Algae are not waste, they protect biodiversity and allow animals to feed themselves”, insists Sophie Poncet.

The ornithologist encourages, finally, to avoid the walk on the top of the beach, where the birds lay, as well as on the sand dunes or vegetated in the back-coast. “When you see a bird resting on the ground, which seems injured, it is important not to approach it at the risk of threatening the family of the animal. On the contrary, it is necessary to shift as much as possible towards the sea and the bottom of the beach. The male plovers pretend to be injured before flying away at the last moment, to keep the gaze of predators away from the nest of the chicks and the female. »

Respect these instructions, the best way to live together and share the beaches.

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