Rare birds under threat at Paxton Pits

RARE birds species are under threat from dogs that are not being kept under control by their owners.

RARE species of birds are under threat at a Huntingdonshire nature reserve because dog-walkers refuse to keep their pets under control.

According to rangers at Paxton Pits, habitats of migrant ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, chiffchaffs and nightingales are being destroyed by people who don’t stick to the paths.

If this continues, the number of birds will continue to diminish as it has done over the past few years.

“Nightingales at Paxton Pits currently account for one per cent of the UK’s population and their territory is being trashed,” Senior Ranger Jim Stevenson told The Hunts Post.

“People don’t realise that when they stray off the paths they are standing on ground where summer migrant birds nest.

“Their habitat is falling apart.”

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Mr Stevenson said despite repeated attempts to alert people to the importance of sticking to the paths, there appeared to be a lack of respect for the wildlife.

“Every year at this time we put up notices to ask people to stay on the paths and keep dogs under control but it has never worked,” he said.

“This year we have the drought as well which means ground cover is extremely thin and there will also be a shortage of insects.

“It is vital that we give the birds and mammals a bit of space.”

Mr Stevenson said the reserve was appealing to birdwatchers, photographers and dog owners this summer to stick to the paths and keep dogs on leads.

“Dogs will still be allowed off the lead but under control on the Ouse Valley Way,” he added.

“They’re also fine on the tarmac road that leads to the quarry and on the many paths to the east that don’t 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 is a fact that increased disturbance during the nesting season is an inhibiting factor, even in woodland.”

INFORMATION: For details on Paxton Pits Nature reserve visit www.paxton-pits.org.uk