Conservators not impressed


As reported on CrowboroughLife hundreds of bird-watchers have been travelling to the Ashdown Forest to see an Eagle rarely seen in this country.

You can read the original article about the Eagle normally seen in southern Europe here.

However it appears not all of the new visitors to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are being as responsible as they might.  Some may be  try to get a bit too close and disturbing other wildlife.

Earlier this week, when it was initially thought the Short-toed Snake Eagle had left area, the Conservators of the Ashdown Forest sent the following Tweet:

Looks like the short toed eagle has moved on & thankfully the ‘twitchers’ have gone too – not too impressed with the ‘twitiching’ community!

— AshdownForest Centre (@Ashdown_Forest) June 24, 2014

In response, a number people on Twitter including @CrowboroughLife asked for clarification about what the problem was.  On Tuesday this reply was sent to Paul Kidd (@Wealdman):

The massive disturbance has displaced nightjars in one area, parking on verges & impeding traffic road & upsetting local residents

— AshdownForest Centre (@Ashdown_Forest) June 25, 2014

There has apparently been a backlash from the bird-watching community as a result of the Tweets, with abusive messages being left.

In hindsight maybe the wording was a little rash, but surely the Conservators were only trying to reinforce the message that people should keep to the footpaths, be careful of other wildlife and be particularly wary of ground-nesting birds.

Some of the Tweets have now been deleted, and the Conservators declined to issue a statement to CrowboroughLife to clarify what they meant, as they didn’t want to inflame the situation.

On the official Ashdown Forest Blog, Countryside Worker Tom Simon said:

Unfortunately, not all bird watchers are as responsible as they should be so some may try to get a bit too close to get that perfect photo and could cause unnecessary disturbance to other wildlife, so please be careful!

Peter Johnson from the Ashdown Forest Bird Group said:

Obviously we understand both sides of the discussion and that most, if not all, bird watchers are decent responsible people. Unfortunately there are bad elements in both bird watching and twitching.  With the sudden rise in people at both locations this will have caused disturbance to ground nesting birds.  Any photographers trying to get closer to the bird and not using a footpath unfortunately causes much disturbance.  There have been rumours of potentially irresponsible actions but I cannot comment further on this as I was not witness to any of it.

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  1. Forest rangers on site were quite happy with overflow cars at the side of the road as long as they were parked sensibly, few birdwatchers strayedvoff paths and almost all unknowingly but the most damage to the forest and its wildlife is caused by unleashed dogs running through nest sites and chasing deer and birds, and piles of dog faeces on paths, in car parks and on the bottom of visitors’ shoes!! Pity the Conservators didn’t use the opportunity to promote their work and engage with the many new visitors to the site, both birders and others, many of the latter who visited as a result of the Eagle and their new found interest in this special area. Shame on you!

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