Photo of Richard Willis, coastal warden

New service will protect Northumberland’s shorebirds

Visit the Space for Shorebirds website here

A new coastal wildlife ranger service is being launched this week by Northumberland County Council.

‘Space for Shorebirds’ has been designed to help safeguard important shorebird populations on the Northumberland coast and conserve the county’s beautiful flower-rich dune grasslands.
The Northumberland coast is internationally renowned for its wildlife, particularly for birdlife and dune grasslands, but this is under ever-increasing pressure from recreational activities such as walking and dog walking. 

Space for Shorebirds has been established to enable people to continue to enjoy the magnificent coastline while ensuring that its important bird populations can thrive as well. 

The service will also be tackling a prickly problem in the dunes - a non-native species called pirri-pirri bur that can displace important dune plants and also make a nuisance of itself as its remarkably sticky seedheads become embedded in people’s clothing and dogs fur.   

Space for Shorebirds is being funded by contributions that housebuilders and new tourism developments make through the planning system, providing a simple and cost-effective way of addressing the impact that their new developments will have on coastal wildlife. 

Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience at Northumberland County Council said: “The council is committed to providing the homes that people need and enabling the tourism industry to thrive, with the much-needed jobs that this provides. 

“However, we are also determined to protect the wonderful wildlife that we are so lucky to have in Northumberland. Balancing these important objectives is not easy, and Space for Shorebirds offers an exciting and innovative approach to this. I very much look forward to seeing how this project develops over the coming years.”

Richard Willis, senior wildlife ranger in the Space for Shorebirds service added: “Almost all of our wintering shorebirds such as turnstone and purple sandpiper migrate thousands of miles to the high arctic to breed. However they spend the rest of the year here with us on the Northumberland coast, so we have a special responsibility to make sure that they can feed and rest without being disturbed. 

“Even though they are amazingly hardy they are vulnerable because they are so dependent on this narrow ribbon of shore where they find their food, and our wildlife rangers will be asking everyone using the coast to simply look out for wildlife and give birds such as the purple sandpiper plenty of space to thrive.  

“I’m very keen that the wildlife rangers at Space for Shorebirds are part of the coastal community, so if you see us out and about please stop and tell us about the wildlife you’ve seen along the coast.”  

More information about visiting the Northumberland coast and the wildlife you might be lucky enough to see there can be found on the new website 

You can also follow and like the service on social media at,, and

Visit the Space for Shorebirds website here

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