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.
Following discussions between all parties in recent years, at the time of writing (August 2018) The Moray Council and Scottish Natural Heritage have yet to convene a mediation process which was identified earlier in the year as a fresh attempt to bring together all users of the Bay involved or affected by wildfowling activity, and seek ways forward for the future. The Findhorn Bay Local Nature Reserve Management Committee fully supports this initiative.
Until output from that activity is forthcoming, the FBLNR Management Committee wishes to outline the following for users of the Bay for the 2018/19 wildfowling season.
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.
- As per the BASC Codes of Practice, use of lead shot is illegal and is not to be used. There is growing concern, however, 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 should be aware that:
- Wildfowling has been prohibited for a number of years on the Bay, north of a line between Minton and the point south of Binsness. Elsewhere wildfowling, itself undertaken under the public right to recreation on the Scottish foreshore, can only be exercised below the mean high water mark of an ordinary spring tide. Land owner (or lessor) permissions are required for any wildfowling to be conducted elsewhere around the Bay. Wildfowlers should be aware that The Moray Council continues to prohibit wildfowling on their land in the southeastern area of the Bay – information signs are posted at key access points for such.
- To assist ongoing national conservation efforts for wading bird species (including Curlews), wildfowlers are requested to avoid conducting their activity in the Bay at Kinloss during the coldest winter months (December, January and February) to reduce disturbance to feeding and/or roosting flocks of these birds. The area is defined as everything on the eastern side of a line from the Mosset Burn outflow at the south end of the Bay to what is commonly referred to as Minton Point at the south end of Findhorn village.
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.