Friday, 4 May 2012

Ground-Nesting Site Getting Overrun with Dogs

Today we followed the same route as Saturday's Dawn Chorus.  We didn't have any Tawny Owls, but we did have 3 singing Garden Warblers.  The weather was very cloudy & there was a strong wind, so the bird song was kept down a little.  The usual suspects were present, but only 1 Whitethroat, but luckily this was seen by both am & pm sessions.  The biggest surprise was a Wheatear which stopped for a few seconds on a gorse bush on the heath before heading off north.  

Both sessions examined an interesting egg.  It was fairly fresh going by the remains of the liquid inside, but it was impossible to say if this had been predated by a crow, or whether the egg had hatched successfully.  It was about twice the size of a Blackbird's egg, and was a lot rounder possibly indicating a game bird, but it certainly isn't a Pheasant's egg.  

The afternoon session was overrun with 7 dogs which weren't kept on leads.  1st there were 3 women who were going to take their dog out for a walk no matter what the signs said, and completely ignored the fact that this is a very important site, or used to be, for ground-nesting birds.  The worst culprit was a local woman who brings her 5 smaller dogs along the road every afternoon, and as soon as she gets to the wood, she lets them off & only tries to get 2 of them back on leads when she comes across people.

This site should have Woodcock trying to nest on the ground, and we witnessed either a Willow Warbler or a Chiffchaff making its dome shaped nest made of woven grass on the ground.  Blackcaps & other Warblers also nest very close to the ground.  This is supposed to be a nature reserve not a pleasure garden for dogwalkers.  A firmer stance needs to be taken with these selfish people during the breeding season who are either completely ignorant of the danger to ground nesting birds, or who wilfully put the needs of their pampered dogs above the survival of our indigenous wildlife.   These photos and more, including registration number of the car containing the 3 women will be passed on to the authorities.

This used to be the richest local woodland for the concentration of bird species.  Numbers have declined in recent years, and the pressure put on these birds by these thoughtless dog-walkers may be exacerbating the situation - it certainly isn't helping!

First 5 pictures (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
Great Spotted Woodpecker
 Wheatear - stopped off for a few minutes
 Carpet of Blue
 St Mark's Fly
Female Minotaur Beetle?
 Egg of a Red-legged Partridge?
 Hoof Fungus
 The Sign - How Clear can it be?
Large Dog - not even on a lead
 The ever so posh "Ladies" Who refuse to read signs which aren't for them!
 A local who brings her 5 mutts every afternoon & tries to put 2 on a lead when she sees anyone


Anonymous said...

Yes it is very frustrating to see dog walkers continue to flout the notices at many of our nature reserves. I don't mind dogs on leads but letting their animals run free, especially at this time of year, is either complete ignorance or arrogance on the part of the dog owners.

Michael Flowers said...

Were there any dogs loose in North Cliffe Wood on your recent visits? It seemed to be ignorance at first, but quickly turned to arrogance when we tried to reason with them.

Anonymous said...

No I haven't seen any dogs lately, but last year I came across a number of dogs which were not under proper control (one of which was initially aggressive and frightened my nephew & niece). I've also seen a couple walking their spaniels in the fenced off woodland west & south of the heath in the past. It's a shame these people are potentially damaging what is a fantastic little reserve, though hopefully your efforts in reporting them will perhaps help a little.

Michael Flowers said...

The situation is even worse at Allerthorpe Common with hardly anyone using leads, although special notices were put up about Nightjars a couple of years ago. One particular dog-walker crossed out Nightjar on every poster & replaced in with Nightmares. They need educating on just why using leads in the breeding season is important. At least things aren't quite so bad underfoot at North Cliffe. You have to spend as much time checking the ground at Allerthorpe as you can afford on checking the skies!