Please don’t disturb nesting guillemots!

The breeding season for guillemots is here (March – July), so extra caution is needed when exploring the coastline that we care for at Berry Head National Nature Reserve.

In the below picture you can see jet skiers entering the Area of Special Protection recently at Berry Head. They disturbed the guillemots and sent the colony flying off the cliffs.

What is an Area of Special Protection?

The guillemot colony at Berry Head is protected by an ‘Area of Special Protection.’

This is a unique protection (the only one of its kind in the UK) of a small marine area and it has been put in place to protect the guillemot colony.

The Area of Special Protection prohibits water vessels and users from entering the cove during the guillemots breeding season (March – July) and it gives powers to the Harbour Authority to protect the guillemots from disturbance by people.

Any person within the Berry Head Area of Special Protection that disturbs a wild bird whilst it is building or in a nest that contains eggs or young is liable to a fixed penalty. 

The guillemot colony at Berry Head is the largest mainland colony in South West England with around 900 breeding individuals nesting on the cliffs.

The Area of Special Protection is marked in dark blue below.

Why do guillemots need our help?

Within the UK, guillemot numbers have decreased, especially on the East Coast of England. The original cause is sea temperatures rising effecting fish populations – a food source for these birds. They have also suffered from habitat loss, over fishing, the spread of Avian Influenza and oil pollution.

The guillemots lay only a single egg in a season and the colony at Berry Head is one of the largest breeding colonies of guillemots on the south coast of England – we must all help to protect them!

Guillemots take flight when disturbed and this wastes valuable energy. It also leaves their egg or chick vulnerable to predators like Great black-backed gulls. 

What can you do?

Please do not enter the Area of Special Protection between March – July.

For further details please read the signs located at Brixham Marina slipway.

Finally, a big way to help is by spreading the word! We can all make a difference to help protect these special birds.