Just off the coast of Brighton, tucked away beneath the waves we have a huge variety of marine habitats including hidden chalk cliffs and reefs – with their rich and colourful diversity of life, they are as good as any tropical reef! Sussex’s skies are filled with an array of coastal birds – not just gulls, and our rockpools are teeming with weird and wonderful life. In this section, The Booth Museum and partners including Brighton Dolphin Project, Sussex Wildlife Trust and the RSPB aim to show you some of our favourites.
The Sussex coastline has some great spots for coastal bird-watching. From Kingfishers to Kittiwakes, you will find an abundance of beautiful coastal bird life right on your doorstep. Lynn Beun from the RSPB Brighton & District Local Group has chosen her top six.
There’s no such thing as a seagull!
“There’s no such thing as a seagull”. I was taught this when I started birdwatching. What! you say? Yes, there are different types of gulls and they have different names. I will tell you about three gulls and two of my other favourite coastal birds that you can spot in Sussex. This is just my personal selection, which ones would you choose?
Close to Brighton Marina or in Shoreham you may see the little aptly named Turnstone, running along the water’s edge ... Read More
Seen any exciting coastal bird sightings in Sussex? Have you got any tips on bird-spotting you would like to share? Let us know in the comments box below.
Hotspots for Coastal Birds
Use our map below to discover hotspots in our area and some of the key species to look out for.
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Below are our latest articles exploring birds in Brighton in further detail. This week Kerrie Curzon has written an article on why the Kittiwake colony at Splash Point is thriving and take a walk along the Brighton coastline with Lynn Beun from the RSPB Brighton & District Local group.
Booth’s entry about the summer kittiwake diorama discusses the Sea-Bird Preservation Act that protected the birds. In Booth’s opinion:
‘the senseless slaughter that took place round their breeding-stations every summer having been allowed to continue too long without interference.’
The Sea Bird Preservation Act of 1869 was the first in the country to protect birds. It prevented people from killing seabirds and collecting their eggs from April to August so that they could breed. The main motivation for this was not for the protection of the birds themselves, but to aid sailors who relied on healthy seabird populations to find land in foggy conditions.
As a collector of birds, Booth’s following sentence contains no sense of irony at his killing of these birds: ‘The specimens in this case were obtained at the Bass Rock in June, 1867.’ The winter kittiwake diorama contains adults in winter plumage and juveniles that were ‘shot a few miles off Brighton, in the winter of 1870.’
Despite the downward trend of many populations of kittiwakes, the colony at Seaford Head in Sussex continues to thrive. Seaford Head to Beachy Head is designated as an area of Special Scientific Interest and Seaford Head Nature Reserve is part managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust and the National Trust. There are over 1000 nests in the kittiwake colony. No one knows exactly why they are doing better than other colonies around the UK. A possible explanation is that prey species are also faring better in the South East. However, this may change as sea temperatures are expected to rise faster along the south coast bringing more unpredictable changes for the kittiwakes and their associated marine ecosystem.
Written by Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant, The Booth Museum of Natural History
Did you know that 100 million years ago the whole of the UK was covered by a warm ocean? Only the tops of the Scottish mountains would have poked above sea-level.
How do we know this? What lived in this warm shallow sea covering Sussex? How does it compare to now? We can use the Booth Museum’s important collection of fossils from the Cretaceous period to find out more.