Climbers welcome mountain blackbirds

Henry Folkard (right) of the BMC and John Mead of the Eastern Moors Partnership looking at positioning of a sign near a potential nest site at Burbage Oaks
Henry Folkard (right) of the BMC and John Mead of the Eastern Moors Partnership looking at positioning of a sign near a potential nest site at Burbage Oaks
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This winter, Peak District climbers have been preparing for the return of ring ouzels to Stanage and Burbage.

“The ring ouzel is a characterful bird, and easy to identify, like a blackbird with a white streak around its throat, some says it looks like a clergyman,” said Henry Folkard of the BMC, the British Mountaineering Council.

Since 2000, Henry and fellow climbers have been working with the Peak District National Park Authority, the Eastern Moors Partnership and the Sheffield Bird Study Group to monitor mountain blackbirds and help them rear their young.

After checking last year’s nest sites over the winter, Henry and fellow climbers will join a team of new volunteers from the BMC recruited by the National Park and the Eastern Moors Partnership to identify this season’s nest sites. Where the nests are near busy climbing routes, they’ll then erect small signs asking climbers and walkers to take care around this season’s ouzel homes.

John Mead, from the Eastern Moors Partnership, is full of praise for the volunteers, particularly since the bird is now on the UK’s ‘red list’ of endangered birds.

“The mountain blackbird is an ambassador for the wild high places of Britain,” he said.

“It’s crucial we maintain this population here, these birds are part of the landscape as much as the rocks themselves.”

John Mead said the public can help ring ouzels by keeping dogs on leads through the nesting season from March to July, and by always taking food waste home. Head to www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/moorapps