|Carpets of ground plants such as|
dog's mercury will provide cover
for ground-nesting birds.
Last year, the first nightingale arrived at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve on April 6th when spring was already well under way. Spring is springing a bit slower this year but other summer migrant birds are already singing. Our resident robins, blue tits, rooks and doves are on nests, high in the trees, but the most of the summer birds will nest on or very near the ground. This makes them more vulnerable to disturbance from people as well as dogs.
Jim Stevenson, Huntingdonshire District Council’s Senior Ranger at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve said,
“Every year at this time we put up notices to ask people to stay on the paths and to keep dogs under close control; it has never worked. This year we have the drought as well, which means that ground cover is especially thin and there will be a shortage of insects too. It’s important to give the birds and mammals a bit of space”.
From Easter to the end of July, everyone including birdwatchers, photographers and dog owners is being asked to stay strictly on the paths. In the most sensitive and busy stretches of path dog owners are requested to keep their dogs on leads. Dogs will still be allowed off the lead but under control on the Ouse Valley Way and on the tarmac road that leads to the quarry, as well as on the many paths to the east that do not form part of the Nature Reserve. Maps and signs will be posted to make it clear where dogs can be let loose.
“The primary purpose of a nature reserve is to produce an abundance of wildlife in order to re-colonise the countryside nearby. We try to balance the needs of visitors with that goal, but it’s a fact that increased disturbance during the nesting season is an inhibiting factor, even in woodland. It’s worse in grassland. That’s why we need your help.”