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Help protect rare breeding bird on the Sheffield Moors

Last modified: 18 April 2016

Male ring ouzel foraging

Image: Andy Hay

Visitors to the Sheffield Moors are being asked to help protect one of the area’s most threatened birds, the ring ouzel.

More commonly known as mountain blackbirds, ring ouzels travel thousands of miles every summer from North Africa to breed on the gritstone edges of the Peak District. Currently, the males are setting up breeding territories in preparation of the imminent arrival of the females.

Sadly, ring ouzels are in serious trouble in the UK; over the past two decades they have declined by 70% and are a species of serious conservation concern. Urgent action is needed to reverse their declines before it’s too late.

In recent years, the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) has worked closely with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) on Stanage, to raise awareness of the importance of ring ouzel conservation. With the imminent lease of Burbage from Sheffield City Council, the Eastern Moors Partnership is keen to continue this pioneering work to ensure a future where wildlife and people can co-exist.

As a result, The Eastern Moors Partnership is asking visitors to help ring ouzels this breeding season by doing the following:

·         Look out for and respect signs about current nesting sites

·         Keep dogs on a lead during bird nesting season (until 31 July)

·         Keep their distance whilst bird watching or taking photographs

John Mead, Eastern Moors Partnership Warden said: “With shared land comes a shared responsibility and an opportunity to work together to ensure that we have a landscape that can support both people and wildlife for the next generation to enjoy.”

Henry Folkard of the BMC said, “It’s great that the good partnership established between the National Park and climbers in protecting these severely endangered birds is now being extended right across the Eastern edges.”

This year the Eastern Moors Partnership is joining forces with PDNPA, the BMC and Sheffield Bird Study Group to monitor ring ouzel numbers across the Sheffield Moors. The aim is to establish baseline numbers of ring ouzels in the area, and study factors affecting ring ouzel populations locally.

John Mead continued: “If you see a ring ouzel on the Sheffield Moors, please report it to us. The more eyes we have on the ground looking for these birds the more we can find out about them and the better we’ll be able to better protect them.”

Ring ouzel sightings should be reported to john.mead@easternmoors.org.uk  or call 0114 2891543.

As their nickname suggest, ring ouzels resemble blackbirds but can be distinguished by a white band across their breast.

The Eastern Moors Partnership and PDNPA are hosting a “Birds in the Burbage Valley” discovery walk on Wednesday 15 June. For more information on the walk or about ring ouzels, please visit www.visit-eastern-moors.org.uk.

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