Despite the monsoonal summer that has devastated many bird species, the Peak District’s ring ouzels have had their best ever breeding season to buck the trend – with a little help from the climbing public.
Ring ouzels, also known as mountain blackbirds, love worms, and the regular – you might say non-stop – rain has brought lots of the wriggly beggars to the surface. This glut of food has allowed bumper broods.
In a typical year there are three or four nests on Stanage, but this year there were seven, resulting in a record 21 young birds fledging. Bill Gordon, site manage for the PDNPA, said: “I am delighted with the success this year, but thanks must go to the climbers, who co-operated with six restrictions, allowing birds to nest undisturbed on the climbing cliffs.”
Gordon added that ring ouzel numbers have declined “massively” in Britain since 1980 and managing Stanage Edge for their protection is doubly important. Ring ouzels are red listed as a conservation priority.
Henry Folkard, local access rep for the BMC, said: “Stanage is one of the most important climbing crags in Britain. It is fantastic that with a little co-operation, thousands of climbers can share the crags with this rare and sensitive species.”
Ring ouzels winter in Morocco where they switch from worms to juniper berries, and there is ongoing research into how they fare on their wintering grounds.
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