Let’s Give our Woodland Birds a Helping Hand

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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

  • Great Linford Manor Park


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    Linford Manor Park park.jpg

    Great Linford Manor Park is a special, heritage-rich park set within the old village of Great Linford. It contains features that were first laid out centuries ago, including ponds and a Wilderness Garden which represent the English Landscape style of garden design that became popular for country estates during the 18th Century.

    Refreshments and food can be found nearby at The Black Horse and the Nag’s Head which are open for lunch and supper. Milton Keynes Arts Centre has a small café where drinks can be purchased.