Dogs and ground-nesting birds
Ground-nesting birds are widespread in the Pentland hills. Many species, such as skylarks, are resident all year round but others, including curlews, lapwings and meadow pipits, will migrate to the hills and use them as their breeding grounds in the spring and summer. During April-July these birds lay their eggs and rear their chicks on the ground in amongst the vegetation, on open scrapes or reservoir shores. Nests and eggs can be well camouflaged, and these species have adapted strategies to protect their young from predators.
However, the nests are still extremely vulnerable to disturbance. Disturbance can be caused by people crossing through nesting habitat, or by allowing dogs to run off lead or not under close control. When disturbed, birds will fly away from their nests, neglecting their eggs or chicks. This can result in eggs not hatching, chicks dying from cold or lack of food, and nests becoming vulnerable to predators. At this time of year, you can reduce the risk of disturbance by staying on well-defined paths, keeping dogs on a lead or close to heel, and not lingering if birds become significantly disturbed by your presence.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code: ground nesting birds
The Access Code states: during the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.