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Birdlife

We have a fascinating range of habitats and wildlife that need our protection.

More than 300 species of bird live or visit here like the Kestrel (picture below).

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Ground nesting birds such as skylarks (picture below) are always at risk, but are well protected from trampling in Barn Field.

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Amazing Journeys

Some animals overcome periods of food shortage and extreme weather by hibernating. Others embark on epic journeys to reach favourable climates where they can survive the winter or rear their young.

Many animals migrate, but this survival strategy is most highly developed in birds. Evolution has equipped them with outstanding navigation skills and energy efficient long distance flight.

Some of the birds that spend the summer with us, such as swallows (picture below), migrate to South Africa for our winter, almost 6000 miles away!

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Every year cuckoos (picture below) make a round trip of about 10,000 miles between here and equatorial Africa.

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How do they do it?

We are gradually increasing our knowledge about migration but there is still a lot to learn. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) are satellite-tracking cuckoos and are getting some remarkable information about their journeys.

Fuelling-up - some birds more than double their body weight before setting off.

Navigation - birds need an in-built map, compass, calendar, clock, perfect sense of direction and reliable memory; all packed into a brain the size of a pea.

They probably recognise stars, coastlines and mountains, but how they navigate over vast oceans remains a mystery. Some can detect the earth’s magnetic field and may use their senses of smell and hearing, following calls of other migrating birds.

Young birds, on their first migration, have no prior knowledge of their destination.

How do they know where to go?

Timing - breeding seasons are short so setting off on time is crucial. Weather conditions and wind direction must also be right.

Re-fuelling - Feeding grounds are visited along the way to re-fuel.

Feeding grounds are visited along the way to re-fuel.

Hengistbury Head is used by passage migrants such as ospreys and dunlin.

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Osprey

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Dunlin

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