Berry Head

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Berry Head

Berry Head

The Birds of Berry Head
The Guillemots are Berry Head’s most famous inhabitants, but the site is important for many other species as well, both as a migration point and a breeding site. Around 200 different species have been recorded either on the headland, or seen from it.
Shag, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Herring Gulls, Jackdaws and Feral Pigeons use the cliffs and quarry sides as breeding sites. Across the headland, scrub areas provide shelter for breeding Whitethroats, Linnets and occasionally Stonechats. Nest boxes and dense bushes are home to common garden species such as Blue tit, Blackbird and Dunnock.
In Spring and Autumn migration turns the reserve into a busy arrivals/departures lounge, with species destined to breed else where in the country ,or even elsewhere in the world, passing through the site. Because it is such a high, prominent place, Berry Head is one of the first sites a bird will come to as it flies in over the Channel. Strong winds at this time of year will push migrating sea birds close inshore and species like Pomarine Skua, Great Shearwater and Black Tern can be exciting additions to a day’s birdwatching. Open grassy areas provide landfall for Wheatears, Pipits and Wagtails, whilst the scrub hides Redstarts, Willow Warblers and Sedge warblers, all on their way to other areas for breeding.

Winter can be rather quiet, as many areas of the site are too exposed, but bright still days will often produce Stonechat and if lucky Dartford Warbler as well as resident species. Harsh weather in Europe may see an influx of continental Robins and thrushes seeking milder, maritime conditions in the UK/
The Guillemot Colony
On the sheer cliffs below the Old Redoubt there is a series of narrow ledges. Here a colony of Guillemots (Uria aalge) gather in spring to breed and raise their young. The colony can exceed 1000 birds, making this the biggest on the South coast of England.

The importance of this colony was recognised long ago by the Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society who campaigned tirelessly to have the birds protected. At one time it was the local sport to bring a boat in under the cliffs and fire off a gun, for the fun of seeing 1000 Guillemots in flight at the same time. Now this kind of activity is strictly banned here, thanks to its designation in 1981 as an Area of Special Protection which also bans rock-climbing on the cliffs during the breeding season. Further information click here


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