For many of us, sunny days and clear skies make exploring local wild places irresistible, and over the last few months Wealden Heaths has drawn visitors from miles around.
Its spectacular landscape and stunning views make this expansive heathland a popular walking destination, but the value of this special place goes beyond its striking beauty.
The Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area is a network of heathlands in east Hampshire, and is designated because it provides habitat for three internationally important bird species: woodlark, nightjar, and Dartford warbler. Right now, all three species are rearing young, and the tiny chicks are at their most vulnerable.
These birds make their nests on or near the ground, which leaves them susceptible to disturbance. Sadly, this can result in chicks being lost to cold and predators. So while the restoration and management of heathlands has seen their populations partially recover, they still need our help to thrive.
Here are a few easy ways to help ensure that the new chicks fledge and flourish:
- Stick to the path – many nest sites on the ground are well hidden, so stay on the path to avoid stumbling across them.
- Bring the lead – curious canines can cause birds to desert their nests, so look for signs letting you know when it’s best to use a lead.
- Bag and bin it – dog poo can change the environment in ways that harm our birds, so be sure to dispose of it properly.