A bird migration superhighway stretching across the UK’s internationally important east coast wetlands could gain UNESCO World Heritage status after being added to the UK’s exclusive list of recommended sites.
The East Atlantic Flyway, stretching from the Humber to the Thames, is used by millions of birds when they migrate in the autumn and spring – with Lincolnshire offering some of the best bird watching spots along the route.
Although perhaps one of Britain’s less well-known birding destinations, Lincolnshire lays claim to being one of the UK’s premier birdwatching counties, and its coastal reserves offer spectacular sights along the high-flying avian highway.
Around 90 million birds fly along the East Atlantic Flyway from the Arctic, through Europe and into Africa, with Britain’s wetlands playing a crucial role in this wildlife spectacle.
Now, those east coast habitats have been added to the UK’s Tentative List of World Heritage sites, the first stage towards joining UNESCO’s list, recognising cultural and natural heritage with “outstanding universal value to humanity”.
If accepted by UNESCO the wetlands would join the company of some of the world’s most iconic sites, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands and Mount Kilimanjaro.
One of just seven sites the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is recommending for consideration by UNESCO, the government will now work with local authorities to develop their bids.
The east coast wetlands, which also provide food and shelter for birds year-round, are one of eight avian superhighways used globally by migratory birds, with more than 155 species using the UK stretch.
In Lincolnshire, the RSPB’s Frampton Marsh reserve is one of the country’s premier birding destinations, located on the edge of the UK’s largest and most important estuary for birds, The Wash. Dubbed a ‘wader honey pot’, in peak spring and autumn migration, it is possible to see 25 different wader species in a few hours, and spot over 100 bird species in a day (www.rspb.org.uk/frampton-marsh).
And another bird rest stop on the Flyway is Cleethorpes, better known as a top family seaside resort, but also home to a variety of habitats, all close together, which make it attractive to numerous species, especially migrating and over-wintering shorebirds. The whole Humber estuary is internationally important, and the popular resort’s beach, sand dunes, sand banks, saltmarsh, intertidal mud flats and wetland all add to its biodiversity.
More details about birdwatching in Lincolnshire can be found in a series of new insider guides to the best places to spot birdlife throughout the year. The guides – on the official Visit Lincolnshire tourism website – provide expert tips on the best places to go; what can be seen; and, most importantly, the best times of year to visit (www.visitlincolnshire.com/birdwatching).
For more about visiting, and staying in, Lincolnshire, see www.visitlincolnshire.com
Flocks of knot soar across the sky in Lincolnshire