Cliffs and Crags are a favourite spot for nesting birds
The BMC negotiates and agrees seasonal climbing restrictions to protect nesting birds with a variety of conservation bodies. Climbers have a great reputation for observing these restrictions and this is a reminder that all of this year’s seasonal restrictions are now in force.
Many of our cliffs and crags are also home to a variety of nesting birds, all of which have some degree of protection by various legislation. The BMC and its regional access volunteers agree these restrictions on an annual basis and great effort and negotiation goes into ensuring that the minimum amount of routes are restricted while at the same time ensuring the protection of key species.
Reckless or deliberate disturbance of some key species such as Peregrine Falcons or Choughs is a criminal offence in itself, while even accidental disturbance of some of the key sea-birds colonies can lead to a catastrophic failure of the whole colony. This is especially true for the birds of the auk family, such as Guillemots and Razorbills, which nest on long horizontal rock ledges and only produce one egg each year. When disturbed, the whole colony flies off in alarm, causing the eggs to roll off the ledge.
There have been a number of changes and alterations to the seasonal agreeements this year and its imperative that climbers do check the RAD before climbing. The BMC also has an agreement in many areas, that when it’s clear that the young birds have succesfully fledged, the restrictions can be lifted early – so again check the RAD for the most up to date information.
There have been significant changes in the seasonal restrictions in recent years at most locations in Wales -including Clwyd Limestone, Llanymynech, Great Orme, Pembrokeshire and Gower as well as at the recently negotiated access to new venues such as Barmouth Quarry and Moel y Gest.
In many areas there has been a significant reduction in the number of routes that are restricted, especially at Gower, Pembrokeshire (Mowingword) and on the Lleyn. This reduction in the number of routes that are restricted can only be sustained if climbers can be seen to be strictly adhereing to the agreed restrictions.
And finally, remember that simply because a crag is not restricted it does not mean that there are no nesting birds present – keep an eye out for typical signs of agitated or disturbed birds – screeching or constant close flying in circles above a particular spot on a cliff and be prepared to retreat or choose another route in that case.