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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Dog walkers urged not to ruin Siddick Ponds nature reserve recovery

Dog walkers at a Workington nature reserve are being urged to keep their pets on leads as the bird population tries to recover following last week’s devastating fire.

Siddick Ponds photo
Kirsten Mawby at Siddick Ponds

Around half the reed beds at Siddick Ponds were damaged by the flames last Tuesday and there has been a major impact on wildlife.

Allerdale council, which owns Siddick Ponds, said that some birds have started nesting in other areas of the reserve, but many have been scared away completely.

The council’s parks and open spaces officer Kirsten Mawby said: “It is all species dependent.

“Those which have stayed at Siddick Ponds are now concentrated in a far smaller area so they are going to have food and protection problems because of the destruction the fires caused.

“That is why we are urging everyone using the site to try not to disturb the birds, stay on the designated paths away from the reeds, and to keep their dogs on leads so the birds do not become distressed again.

“The nesting season will be over at the end of July so if people could help us during this time we would really appreciate it.”

Natural England and the RSPB have assessed the damage and said that the thatch of the reed beds is not badly damaged so it should grow back and regenerate with signs of re-growth becoming visible in approximately three months.

Work is also continuing on new areas of fencing at the Siddick Ponds site, which will give the birds added protection. This is part of a Natural England-funded stewardship plan. One section, close to the Dunmail Park entrance to the site, has already been finished. More is planned for the rear of the reserve, close to the Iggesund complex.

Ms Mawby added: “We are putting fencing in strategic areas predominantly to keep dogs away from the wildlife and the important reed beds. We are trying to keep this fencing as unobtrusive as possible by using natural and coloured materials so they blend in and don’t affect the site’s natural beauty.

“This work was already happening, but because of the fire it is now doubly important for us to try to protect the birds as much as we can.”

Bird boxes will also be erected at Siddick Ponds to give the inhabitants more nesting opportunities next year.

Police and firefighters are investigating the fire as they believe it could have been started deliberately.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101.

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