I took the weekend off to allow myself to catch up on some notes (sadly more important than birding). Otherwise the plan would’ve been to join Alex, Sean and Keith on a trip to Devon in search of cirl bunting, the Bonapart’s gull and penduline tits. By the sounds of it, a fun and successful day was had which was good. Meanwhile, I had a mostly bird-less but productive day, meaning I can go birding the weekend coming up. That said, the highlight for me was a full summer plumage black-headed gull in the city centre by KFC during a break I took.
Today we got to spend a few hours on the New Forest side of Southampton Water as part of a module about the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). We started at Calshot, overlooking the Solent and Fawley Power Station to discuss a scenario in which the power station was demolished to make way for some wind turbines and a sustainability centre – who knows, maybe one day it’ll happen? We’ve got some coursework on this, so it was good to see the site in person. I’m not used to seeing Fawley Power Station up close. Usually I’m looking across from Hill Head or Lee-on-the-Solent.
We started to think about the potential impacts of building some wind turbines. For a start, the power station is next to Calshot Marshes Nature Reserve, next to the New Forest National Park, and part of the Solent, which had a whole range of designations (RAMSAR, SPA, SSSI….). To remind us why the Solent is so important, there was some bird life present – brent geese, dunlin, oystercatchers, teal, shelduck, black-headed gulls, a rock pipit and a black-tailed godwit.
We finished the trip with a quick detour to Hythe Marine, close to the site of the proposed Dibden Terminal that was rejected because of the impact to the wildlife (and probably other reasons too). Had the Dibden Terminal been built, and the developers stuck to their word, there would have been a net gain in habitat, including intertidal mudflats, in the long term. Perhaps in hindsight a good thing? (although in the short term, admittedly, the wildlife would’ve lost out). We’ll never know, but at least one of the alternatives that was considered, and dismissed at the time, has most likely happened and had its impact on the wildlife and the local area, no doubt.
Looking out towards Southampton gives you an idea of how built up it is, both in terms of the city itself and the port. Looking out towards the rest of the Solent, you also get an idea as to just how built up it, and most other coastlines, are.
Amazing to think how much wildlife still thrives in the Solent despite the fact that its so built up, and there’s yet more developments underway. With luck, and the dedication of conservationists, the wildlife will continue to thrive in the Solent for decades to come. My aim in the future, and now as a volunteer, is to ensure this is the case!
I’m looking forward to the summer when I can return to Langstone Harbour and re-join Wez to protect and monitor the terns, which have suffered a lot from habitat loss.