Help protect our ground nesting birds

Lapwing standing in the grass

As we emerge from winter, it’s a joy to hear the spring birdsong in the trees and skies around us. However, it’s also a time to be mindful of the precious, almost invisible nests just steps away from our feet. Please help us to protect these birds by sticking to the paths and keeping your dog on a lead and close to you from 1 March to 31 July.

Farmland provides the ideal breeding ground for some of our most endangered birds such as the lapwing with its astonishing in-flight acrobatics, and the skylark, whose melodious song has inspired poets and musicians for hundreds of years.

Skylark in full song as it soars through the sky
Skylark in full song as it soars through the sky
Skylark in full song as it soars through the sky

However, numbers of these farmland ground nesting birds have declined dramatically over recent years and are now on the red list of Birds of Conservation of Concern.

Unlike most birds, these build their nests on the ground rather than in the trees, making them extremely vulnerable. Their nests are cleverly camouflaged so as not to attract the attention of predators and are often unnoticed by walkers and visitors to the countryside.

A lapwing's nest hidden in the grass
A lapwing's nest with eggs camouflaged in the grass on the ground
A lapwing's nest hidden in the grass

Dogs, with their more powerful senses, are especially good at finding these treasures which are hidden to us. If disturbed, they may abandon their nests leaving their chicks to starve.

" We see large numbers of these ground nesting birds across the Surrey Hills from March to early summer. Their breeding success is critically dependent on not being disturbed, and so we would ask that visitors stay on the paths and keep their dogs on leads in sensitive areas."
- Stephanie Fudge

The numbers and diversity of these birds is so important for our environment and the food chain. Together we can protect and nurture the success of these nesting families.