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Spring at Stanage means crag-nesting birds, chicks and climbers helping conserve them

This is an archived press release

Thursday 28 May 2015

Ring ouzel, the mountain blackbird at StanageClimbers, walkers and bird watchers are helping the Peak District National Park protect rare ring ouzel chicks on the rock cliffs at Stanage-North Lees, near Hathersage.

Ring ouzel are the upland cousin of the more common blackbird, and are known as the mountain blackbird. They are easy to identify because they have a white crescent or gorget on their chest.

The Peak District National Park’s warden at Stanage-North Lees, Bill Gordon, said: “Ring ouzels are beautiful to watch and add to the magic of Stanage. They have silvery wingstreaks and a piping song that’s as clear as mountain springwater.”

Nesting time is a busy time for the birds and for everyone looking out for them. Bill works closely with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) on Stanage to help people understand and appreciate ring ouzel and why it is important to conserve them.

Bill puts up signs informing climbers which climbing routes to avoid. Climbers play their part by respecting the temporary closures. People walking dogs help by keeping their dogs on leads.

Bill said: “Ouzel-ing season has started, which means early mornings and late evenings keeping an eye on the nest sites - it's at this stage when ring ouzels face a number of challenges, from predators such as stoats and weasels, to inadvertent disturbance through recreational activities.

“These birds have the odds stacked against them but although sensitive, are fiercely loyal to their nest site, their eggs, and their young. It is not unusual for a female ring ouzel to remain sitting on eggs while the nest becomes under attack, and pay the ultimate price in doing so.”

May and June are particularly special at Stanage – the bracken is unfurling its green leaves, and purple lanterns of bilberry flowers are in bloom. The scent of peat is in the air, and the ring ouzel are in full song. It all adds to the sense of wildness and escape people experience among Stanage’s rugged crags and windswept moorland.

There are many ways for people to enjoy Stanage-North Lees but at this time of year the long daylight hours make a stay at the campsite a must-do. Booking is by phone on 01433 650 838. More information is at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/camping-northlees

And, Bill Gordon is leading a series of themed guided walks to help people get more out of their visit to Stanage:

Wednesday June 3, Pied Flycatchers at Stanage, 6pm to 8.30pm. Meet at Hollin Bank car park, below Stanage Edge, for a short walk (1 to 2 miles) through woodlands with the Stanage-North Lees wardens to discover woodland birds, including pied flycatchers feeding their young. Suitable for adults and children aged 12 and over. Assistance dogs only. People should bring binoculars if they have them.

Sunday June 7, Pied Flycatchers at Stanage, 10am to 12.30pm. Meet at Hollin Bank car park, below Stanage Edge, for a short walk (1 to 2 miles) through woodlands with the Stanage-North Lees wardens to discover woodland birds, including pied flycatchers feeding their young. Suitable for adults and children aged 12 and over. Assistance dogs only. People should bring binoculars if they have them.

Sunday 14 June, Ring Ouzels at Stanage, 8am to 1pm. Meet at Hollin Bank car park, below Stanage Edge. Join warden Bill Gordon for a wander under Stanage Edge to look and listen for ring ouzel and find out more about them. This nationally threatened bird is thriving at Stanage as a result of positive management involving the warden and the climbers. Suitable for adults and children aged 12 and over. Assistance dogs only. People should bring binoculars if they have them.

Booking is essential for all three walks, on 01629 816270. Donations are welcome on the day towards the cost of the walk and the management of Stanage-North Lees

An extra walk is available on Saturday June 20, when Bill will be leading Life and Times of Ring Ouzels, from 8am to 1pm. It is suitable for adults and children aged 12+ years, and costs £5. Booking is essential by emailing https://enquiries@easternmoors.org.uk.

For directions to Stanage-North Lees visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/stanage-and-north-lees

This is an archived press release

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