Mar 04 2023

What counts as a main path?

Photo of heathland taken in warm evening light. A paths winds its way through flowering gorse.
It's important to keep to the paths and keep dogs with their #PawsOnPathsPlease. Birds could easily be nesting very close to a path like this one.
Click Image to Enlarge

Today I thought I’d look a little closer at what ground-nesting bird habitat looks like, with the help of my able assistant, Henry!

Sometimes there’s confusion about what a main path looks like, or the type of habitat that birds use for nesting. Main paths are obvious paths and tracks, usually part of the public rights of way network. Smaller paths, also known as ‘desire lines’, are generally made by people taking shortcuts, often cutting through optimal nesting habitat. The photos below show two main paths and a smaller path that leads to an expanse of open grass and heather where Nightjar nest. If in doubt, many of our heaths have areas of woodland that are great for sniffing, exploring and ‘zoomies’, stick to these and you can’t go wrong!

Two photos showing a small dog beside a nice wide footpath.

Main paths are obvious paths and tracks, usually part of the public rights of way network.

Two photos, one showing a small dog beside a narrow path and a second showing a nice area of open heather, with only a few scattered trees.

Smaller paths (left) often go through optimal nesting habitat (right).

Why are ‘open’ habitats favoured? Woodlark feed on the ground and walk from the nest to forage for themselves and their offspring. They prefer open heath for this, especially recently cleared areas. And Nightjar are beautifully adapted to this habitat too. Their camouflage patternation allows them to ‘disappear’ into the vegetation, their main defence mechanism.
Please help us spread the word…keep to main paths from March to September to protect these sensitive birds.

Thank you everyone 🙏

Thames Basin Heaths Partnership

Pictorial messages for "Keep to main paths", "Prevent fires" and "Explore alternatives"



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