Monday, 19 January 2015

Longshaw Year of Birds is taking off...

This year Longshaw celebrates the amazing lives of birds. The Peak District is home to many rare and special birds, including the Ring Ouzel and Pied Flycatcher. National Trust land is carefully managed by rangers to benefit our feathered friends, and includes many SSSIs. A flock of Longshaw events in 2015 will explore the fascinating variety and resilience of moorland and woodland birds. As a long-term visitor experience volunteer, Megan Carroll is co-ordinating the project as part of her placement at Longshaw. “I’m very excited about the year ahead” she says, “I’ve always been a bird fanatic, and I know this enthusiasm takes hold of visitors of all ages and levels of knowledge”. The Peak District is a perfect habitat for many rare birds. Dovedale and Ilam Park are home to the beautiful Kingfisher and charismatic Dipper,while Longshaw is proud of its population of the scarce Pied Flycatcher. These tiny black and white birds migrate from Africa to breed in food-rich Padley Gorge, hunting for caterpillars in the early morning. National Trust rangers have provided special nest boxes for them, and bung up the entrance holes to prevent other, less rare, species from taking over before the flycatchers have chance to arrive from Africa. When the migrants return in April, the holes are un-bunged and they can move in. Similarly, the rangers manage the moorland to be perfect for lapwings and curlews, wading birds which spend the winter at the coast and return to the moors to breed. Local climbing and running groups also play their part, by giving the secretive Ring Ouzel a respectful berth during its breeding season on Burbage and Stanage. The Year of Birds takes off with the Festival of Birds on Saturday 24th January, with a guided walk in the morning and talk by local Ring Ouzel specialist Bill Gordon and ranger John Mead in the afternoon. Other events throughout the year include ringing demonstrations, surveying walks, and bird box building, plus spotter sheets available from the Visitor Centre. Ilam Park also has plenty of feathery fun in store for February half term, with "Brilliant Birds at Ilam Park" activities Tuesday- Thursday. It’s an exciting year to be winging it.

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