Skylarks nesting in Stinchcombe Hill at risk from unleashed dogs

WALKERS on Stinchcombe Hill are being asked to play their part in a campaign to save skylarks and other birds, which are coming under increasing pressure from those seeking out green spaces as an escape during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The numbers of skylarks, which nest in low grass, have been falling significantly in the UK for decades.

And now, conservationists report that the hill is suffering from the unprecedented number of people using it for recreation.

Dr James Robinson, who is WWT’s director of conservation, based at Slimbridge, said: “One of the main problems is that dogs are being allowed off the lead and chase the ground-nesting birds like skylarks.

“This is the time when the larks are forming territories and building nests, a time when they are most vulnerable to disturbance.”

Stinchcombe Hill trustee John Hammill has erected some temporary laminated signs to encourage walkers to stick to paths and keep their dogs on leads.

Hill trustee Christina Carter said: “It’s really important to maintain the hill as a full access green space for all the people of the area.

“The irony is that many of the things that make it so attractive to people are currently under threat because of the massive increase in numbers over the past few months, during the pandemic.

“We are considering what measures we can take, including whether we can put up notices reminding people to stick to the designated paths, and to keep their dog on a lead, giving the breeding birds a chance to get on with their lives relatively undisturbed.”

She added: “If we fail to act now, the joy of hearing lark song on Stinchcombe Hill may soon be a thing of the past. Please don’t let that happen.”

The trustees would like to thank everyone who has been sticking to the path and especially those who have decided to keep their dog on the lead in this area.

Gazette Series Gloucestershire