Walkers and dog owners can help protect Selsley Common’s population of ground-nesting Skylarks by keeping to the defined paths and ensuring dogs are kept on a short lead when enjoying the beauty spot.
Selsley Common is a great place to spot the iconic, yet sadly declining, resident bird species. Skylarks are classified as ‘red’ on the British Birds of Conservation Concern list which means that their population is in steep decline. In the UK, the population halved during the 1990s and continues to decline.
The Skylark nesting season started in April and ends in July. The ground-nesting birds are easily disturbed, especially now, and this can prevent them from raising their chicks.
Councillor Chloe Turner, Chair of Stroud District Council Environment Committee said: “It’s so important that we all remain responsible when out walking across Selsley Common. Ground nesting birds such as Skylarks need our help, and we can protect the local population by sticking to public rights of way and respecting their space. The common lands are enriched with the songs of skylarks, and I’m sure we all want to keep it this way.”
A large portion of the common – the sloping parts – are a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the whole site falls within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. and is also home to rare wildflowers and orchids such as the fly-bee hybrid. Its diverse habitat is an important breeding ground for Skylarks which are a frequent sight for many people who visit there.
Dog owners can also help protect the delicate chemistry of the soil by cleaning up after their dog. There are several dog waste bins close to the road and next to the car parking areas. If you can’t find one, please take your waste home with you and dispose of it with your normal household waste.
Barbeques and fires are not permitted on Selsley Common and become a fire hazard, especially during dry summer spells.
Environment Committee Vice chair Robin Drury-Layfield said:
“We are committed to working with local communities to help protect and nurture biodiversity and to provide an accessible environment that everyone can enjoy – humans, canines, and birds. This is very much in keeping with our Council Plan objectives and we welcome your support in meeting them.”
The National Trust, which manages Minchinhampton & Rodborough Commons, is also keen to promote dogs being kept on a short lead. From 1 March to 31 July it is a legal obligation to keep dogs on a short lead (no longer than 2 meters long), while on open access land.
Dogs can also scare livestock, particularly cattle, which will graze the commons from mid-May.