Codes of conduct for birdwatchers and photographers

The Birdwatcher's Code puts the interests of birds first, and respects other people whether or not they are interested in birds. Photographers must be sensitive to the disturbance they might cause to wild birds at any time, but especially during the breeding season.

The Birdwatcher's Code
The Isle of Man Government has produced an excellent 

Code for Birdwatchers
and Photographers

which you are urged to read. This summarizes The Wildlife Act 1990 (Isle of Man) and the Manx list of Schedule 1 birds.

You can also download the leaflet (PDF) version of the code.

The code applies whenever and wherever you are watching birds - in the Isle of Man, the UK or anywhere else. Please help everybody to enjoy birdwatching by following the code, leading by example and sensitively challenging the minority of birdwatchers who behave inappropriately.

Without common sense, wild birds are put under even greater pressures than they already have to endure. Winter survival and breeding success can be significantly diminished by the thoughtless or deliberately selfish behaviour of birdwatchers.

Here are five key things to remember:

  1. Avoid disturbing birds and their habitats – the birds’ interests should always come first.
  2. Be an ambassador for birdwatching.
  3. Know the law and the rules for visiting the countryside, and follow them.
  4. Send your sightings to Manx BirdLife (or the relevant County Bird Recorder).
  5. Think about the interests of wildlife and local people before passing on news of a rare bird, especially during the breeding season. If in doubt, consult Manx BirdLife (or the relevant County Bird Recorder).

For more information, read the BTO Birdwatcher's Code.

Photographing birds

In the Isle of Man, as with many other countries, it is illegal to intentionally or recklessly disturb Schedule 1 species at or near a nest without a licence.

For example, if you are photographing such species at or near a breeding location and you affect the behaviour or breeding success of the birds, then you are breaking the law. If there is any possibility of causing an effect on their behaviour, then you are advised to apply for a licence from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), Directorate of Forestry, Amenity and Lands.