Let’s Give our Woodland Birds a Helping Hand

Howe Park Wood - Media Banner Image.jpg
28 February 2020

Although the weather may feel wintery, we will very soon be entering spring and with it the main nesting season for most of our native birds.

As with so much of our wildlife, our woodland birds are under enormous pressure. In the last 40 years, we have lost approximately half of our nesting birds in our woodlands in Milton Keynes, in common with the national trend. Habitat fragmentation and a crash in the insect population are largely to blame. For this reason, we need to do all we can to help out birdlife at this critical time of year.

Signs will be going out at our woodlands this week asking all dog walkers to help by keeping their pets on a lead when walking through Howe Park Wood, Shenley Wood and Linford Wood.

A number of common songbirds including chiffchaff, robin and blackbird, nest very close to the ground, often in brambles in the understorey woodland. And for some of our spring/summer migrants, particularly warblers like the blackcap and willow warbler, disturbance to the nest can be the difference between success and failure.

The Parks Trust’s Biodiversity Officer Martin Kincaid says:
“We would ask all dog owners to kindly do their bit to help our woodland birds. Please keep dogs on a short lead when in the woodlands – we are happy for people to exercise dogs off the lead outside the woodlands themselves. Some of our birds like willow warbler have all but vanished from Milton Keynes’ woods and we want future generations to be able to hear its beautiful song”.

Besides the disturbance to nesting birds, dogs can also affect freshwater species by entering ponds to bathe. Frogs and newts breed in our ponds between February and June and the cleaner and less disturbed the ponds remain, the more successful their breeding season. It is important that dogs do not enter ponds and ditches which harbour a great diversity of wildlife in spring.

So please be aware that if you are walking you dog in Milton Keynes' woodlands, you may be spoken to by one of our Community Rangers and reminded to comply with our Dogs on Leads policy throughout the bird nesting season.

Discover our parks

  • Howe Park Wood


    Howe Park Wood - park.jpg

    Howe Park Wood is an ancient woodland in the south west of Milton Keynes near Westcroft and Tattenhoe which boasts a rich variety of wildlife and fantastic on site facilities including toilets, a café and a small play area.

  • Shenley Wood


    shenley wood - park.jpg

    Shenley Wood is one of three ancient woodlands in Milton Keynes, a wonderful spot for a quiet walk and to enjoy the abundant wildlife.

  • Linford Wood


    Linford Wood - Park Image.jpg

    Enclosed in the year 1264 by Baron Von Pippard, the original owner of the Linford Manor estate, Linford Wood is the largest and oldest of the Trust's three ancient woodlands. Despite its location close to the city centre, Linford Wood provides a tranquil haven for wildlife and people. Find out more about how we manage Linford Wood by clicking here.