With January bringing the usual Smew to the CWP, I’ve had a few complaints from landowners (and other birders) about disturbance from a minority who are trying to get a closer look or better photograph. Smew are prone to such disturbance more than most, but it’s really not appropriate for this to happen with any wildlife species, especially when they’re seeking a bit of peace and quiet. It’s easy to think about hopping a fence to get closer to a lake, or squeezing through a hedge to get a better angle, but these sites are all privately owned in some way, even where there are aspects of public access or rights of way. Please respect these species and their favoured sites and stick to the marked footpaths at all times. It gets harder for me to argue for continued or enhanced public access if a minority persist in this way, and favoured sites will ultimately be abandoned by these species.
Ben Welbourn, Biodiversity & Estates Manager, Cotswold Water Park Trust