Disturbance is a major problem for ground nesting birds.

Hi folks,

I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks and things are really starting to move at a fair old pace.

I have been out and about doing numerous surveys, studies and ringing. There has been a few surprises whilst carrying out a number of studies.

I have had a few firsts in the way of breeding and chicks, I have looked through some of my data and found that the 23/04/2010 was the earliest that I have recorded Lapwing Chicks.

Here are a few photo's taken last week of one day old Lapwing Chicks and a Lapwings nest.

The birds welfare is paramount and all the chicks are processed by licensed ringers efficiently and quickly.

The breeding season, between 1st March and 31st July, is a particularly vulnerable time for ground nesting birds. When disturbed birds may be prevented from settling, or if already nesting they will fly away from their nests, neglecting their eggs or chicks. Disturbance may result in:

• Birds failing to nest

• Eggs failing to hatch

• Chicks dying from cold or lack of food

• Nests becoming vulnerable to predators

It is a criminal offence to disturb rare breeding birds, including Hen Harriers, Peregrines and Merlin’s, intentionally or not. This also includes disturbance caused by your dog.

Information about Moorland restrictions can be found on local signs or at www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk

Fines of up to £20,000 and or imprisonment are possible.

How to recognize a distressed or disturbed bird

• They will make a loud repeated alarm call – they don’t sound very happy and they’re not.

• They will approach people much closer than would normally be the case - some birds may even dive bomb you. This is a clear message that the bird feels threatened by your presence and that you should retreat.

• They will feign injury in an attempt to distract you from the nest.

• Subtle behaviour such as circling high above.

What you can do to help

• Wherever possible stick to tracks or paths, particularly when going through dense heather.

• Keep dogs and birds apart. Birds see dogs as a threat.

• Give a wide berth to young birds and to adults that appear distressed. Move away quickly and quietly, this may mean going back the way you have come.

• Do not stop for prolonged periods away from paths. Move on if a bird shows signs of disturbance or distress.

• Avoid steep cloughs.

• Follow the Birdwatchers Code of Conduct, available from the RSPB website.

• Follow any instructions or advice given by Rangers or Wardens.

( Source of info Tread Carefully Leaflet )

I'm sure that the vast majority of us follow the above advice, I just wanted to raise the awareness that we all need to be vigilant.

Enjoy your days out and be careful were your treading.

Regards Buzzard