Wildfowling has long been practised on Findhorn Bay, although in recent years use of internet-based communications and access has resulted in an increase in numbers visiting the Bay from outwith the local area. At the same time, the population in the immediate area of the Bay has grown and with changing attitudes in society this has led to a rise in tension culminating in protests and petitions, both for and against shooting. The Bay is an internationally recognised and important site for overwintering birds, some of which like the Curlew are now red-listed under the British Trust for Ornithology’s Birds of Conservation Concern effort.
Wildfowling Codes of Practice for Findhorn Bay
- Wildfowling season for shooting below the mean high water mark is 1 September to 20 February.
- No shooting is to take place on Sundays and Christmas Day.
- The FBLNR Management Committee requests that wildfowlers, both club-affiliated or private individuals, abide by the Codes of Practice published by The British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) – link here: https://basc.org.uk/cop/wildfowling/ Note that these detailed codes include topics such as vehicle noise disturbance to local residents, use of competent gun dogs, dealing with injured birds, litter removal and carcass removal of shot birds.
- Additionally, the Forres, Nairn and District Wildfowling Association (FNDWA) – itself represented on the FBLNR Management Committee – promotes a set of controls for wildfowling within the Reserve area. The details are available through the Shooting and Country Sports (SACS) website.
- As per the BASC Codes of Practice and FNDWA guidelines, use of lead shot is illegal and is not to be used. There is also growing concern that plastic wadding used in steel shot casings can and are causing contamination in and around the Bay. Therefore wildfowlers are requested to remove these at the conclusion of their visit.
- If there is a particularly cold spell of weather then the FBLNR Management Committee, in consultation with local wildfowling groups, may suspend shooting.
Wildfowling Areas on Findhorn Bay
The southeastern area of the Bay off Kinloss has been the most contentious area for shooting in recent years owing to its proximity to a growing number of residents. It is also the area favoured by many wildfowlers for shooting in the mornings. Additionally, it is an important high water roost for many of the waders such as Curlew. Before visiting the Bay, wildfowlers are to be fully conversant with the advice provided by the local wildfowling clubs on where and when they should shoot on the Bay during the 2019/2020 season. Details can be viewed here.
Advice for non-wildfowlers
- If visiting the Bay during the wildfowling season then avoiding the peak shooting period early in the morning is advisable.
- If you do need to visit the Bay when shooting is taking place it is vital that you remain well behind the line of guns, and note that they may not be easy to see when in concealment in the early morning light. This is an important safety point.
- If exercising a dog then they must be kept under close control or on a lead at all times when on the Nature Reserve.
- If you want to go birding early morning when shooting is taking place off Kinloss, then the bird hide is a good area. Very few, if any, wildfowlers use the section north of the runway lights as virtually no birds fly off the Bay over this area first thing in the morning.
- Do not get into a confrontation with those legally wildfowling on the Bay. If you believe something illegal is taking place then the matter should be referred to Police Scotland.