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Climbers, Nesting Birds and Avoiding Conflict
‘Access’ has always been a hot topic amongst outdoor enthusiasts and this time of year the bird nesting season highlights the problem, so how do Yorkclimbers.com avoid conflict.
The UK is internationally recognised for it's wintering, migratory and nesting birds. For over thirty years the British Mountaineering Council BMC the national governing body for climbers and mountaineers in England and Wales has worked with conservation bodies, the RSPB, National Park Authorities and Local Ornitholigists to agree reasonable voluntary nesting restrictions.
Over the years climbers and mountaineers have actively supported the voluntary restrictions advised by the authorities. The problem was that in the past the only information available to many climbers was local climbing guides which imposed a rigid restriction known as ‘Bird Bans’ on specific areas updated every ten years or so.
Unfortunately birds don’t read guidebooks and as climbers were often working with out of date information inevitably there were some occasional clashes with birds and bird enthusiasts. More importantly it was always the nesting birds who suffered.
Nowadays with the advent of the internet the emphasis is on all parties working together to provide accurate information allowing a much more flexible and reasonable approach which is better for all parties concerned.
The nationwide management of the bird nesting season starts in late winter with the Local Ornitholigists monitoring the places that the protected species of birds are likely to breed. They then meet with regional representatives of the BMC to discuss the individual situations and decide on relevant 'Bird Bans'. This information is then posted on the BMC website and added to the Regional Access Database RAD
Then Local Ornitholigists like John Lowton-Roberts from North Wales, although not a climber, marks out the ‘Bird Ban’ areas of his local cliffs using small metal markers.
He then continues to monitor the nesting sites so as soon as there is evidence that the birds do not use a particular site, he immediately informs the BMC, lifts the 'Bird Ban' and removes the markers.
York born Andi Turner who now lives in the South Peak District, acts as the Local Rep for the BMC. This year he has arranged with his local RSPB reps to restrict access to an area for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons. He has made an agreement to wait until the youngster(s) are fledging then observe the birds as a party climbs on the crag if the birds do not react the ‘Bird Ban’ may be lifted earlier than normal.
Sometimes it is impossible to avoid contact with nesting birds, mid July last year a party of Yorkclimbers visited Eastby Crag near Skipton one evening, this crag is not usually associated with ‘Bird Bans’ and there were no restrictions listed on the RAD site. On one of the climbs we came across a Kestrel nest with three large chicks in it. Now Kestrels are not a protected specie but we notified the BMC and a temporary two week ‘Bird Ban’ was imposed on the crag to allow the chicks to leave the nest undisturbed. (See Blog 'The Midges of Eastby')
These are just examples of how climbers and bird enthusiasts via the BMC, RSPB, and National Park Authorities are working together all over the England and Wales to manage the conflict between outdoor enthusiasts and our wonderful wildlife.
If anyone is in doubt about any access issues in climbing areas check out the BMC RAD website it is kept up to date and if you come across access problems of any kind contact the BMC.
As usual the best source of local climbing information in York can be found at Yorkclimbers.com