How climbers help protect nesting birds this spring and summer

Posted by Team BMC on 16/02/2024

BMC Access and Conservation Officer for Wales Tom Carrick has been out with the writers of a new climbing guidebook for the adventurous Llŷn peninsula, discussing seasonal restrictions along the coastline to avoid disturbing nesting birds this spring and summer.

At the BMC we are passionate about securing access to crags for climbers by negotiating with landowners and conservation bodies on your behalf. At the same time we have to meet our responsibilities towards the local wildlife.

Tom says, “Every year from mid-February through to mid-August thousands of birds’ nest and rear their young on many of the cliff faces we enjoy climbing on. By agreeing these restrictions, we keep a careful balance that helps us to climb whilst avoiding disturbance of nesting birds.

This week I went to the Llŷn peninsula with conscientious guidebook writers Pat Littlejohn and Mick Lovatt, and chough specialist Adrienne Stratford to agree new bird restrictions. This is a key part of my work and it’s great that Pat and Mick are setting a good example for other guidebook writers. 

“The restrictions for the Llŷn peninsula will come out on the Regional Access Database (RAD) once the guidebook is completed. Climate change is already having a negative affect on the UK’s seabird populations, so as hill walkers and climbers we can help massively by checking the nesting information on RAD to minimise our impact. Please do check RAD to find out about nesting bird restrictions across the whole of England and Wales during spring and summer, and it’s also important keep dogs under control in these areas and to stay away from any nests.”



Which birds are protected? 

Former Access and Conservation Officer for England Rob Dyer explains, “All wild-nesting birds have a level of protection under the law, but there is special protection for particularly rare species – known as "Schedule 1" species. The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 makes the destruction of nests or eggs of any wild-nesting bird an offence, and, additionally, Schedule 1 rare species cannot be disturbed at the nest. Each year, the BMC agrees climbing restrictions for Schedule 1 species or certain locally-rare other species. The most common are: peregrines, ravens, ring ouzels, choughs and auk species – such as razorbills and guillemots.”

Thank you responsible climbers

Rob says, “Climbers have a good record of following the agreed restrictions. As a result, conservation bodies and landowners generally look on climbers as responsible countryside users and are happy to negotiate with the BMC. However, if we don’t continue to observe negotiated restrictions and that view changes, then more draconian restrictions are likely. So it’s in everyone’s interest to give these fantastic birds the space they need to raise their young for a few months each year.”

Find out more about nesting bird restrictions here.

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