Jill's plea to keep dogs on leads as ground nesting bird breeding season starts and the countryside is filled with walkers

The first calf of the year made its way into the world last week on a bright and fresh morning.

The moors around Jill's home are filled with curlews and lapwings but irresponsible dog owners are threatening their future.
The moors around Jill's home are filled with curlews and lapwings but irresponsible dog owners are threatening their future.

No assistance was required and thankfully the calf was up and sucking before we got to the shed. It was followed two days later by a big strong heifer calf, who also arrived safely.

We’ve made the most of the dry spell and have got both sheds mucked out. The top shed has been power washed and disinfected and set up as a maternity ward. The countdown is now on as we eagerly await the arrival of our Blue Faced Leicester lambs.

The good weather has meant we’ve been able to do countless jobs that have been pushed to the back of the queue. John-William has made some new bird boxes, fencing has been repaired and hours of tidying, sweeping and general sorting out has been achieved.

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    Whilst we’ve been busy with our “spring clean”, the birds have returned, bringing with them that sense of renewal and hope. The land that is sandwiched between the Eastbound carriageway and Boothwood reservoir is alive with high pitched whistles and “pee-wits” as oystercatchers, sandpipers and lapwings jostle for space. Left to nest, feed and rear their young, free from the constant disturbance by walkers and dogs, they thrive down there.

    The rest of the farm doesn’t fare so well. Despite my endless pleas on social media pages, countless signs nailed on gateways, the message is still not getting across. I have come to dread weekends where the days are filled with blue sky and sunshine. Within hours, the moors are filled with rampaging dogs, the skies buzzing with startled, angry ground nesting birds and sheep are seen fleeing in all directions, hurtling down steep hillsides in a desperate attempt to outrun some idiots free ranging dog.

    I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve done my best to educate and calmly explain the necessity for a lead and I’ve finally been driven to screaming like a deranged banshee at people to put their dog on a lead. But still they don’t.

    Like thousands of people up and down the country, I sat and watched David Attenborough’s superbly sobering “A Life on our Planet”.

    I cried and shared his pain and frustration. As a nation we have all lamented the destruction of the mighty Rainforest, the near extinction of some of the world’s most amazing creatures like the Pangolin and Snowy Owl. So why is it, our own equally fragile ecosystem, here in the Pennines and our own equally critically endangered ground nesting birds are completely ignored.

    Why do people care so little and continue with their “I have a right to be here” attitude. I can’t begin to imagine a Pennine landscape that doesn’t include these beautiful birds, one that will soon fall silent and that spine tingling, evocative call of the Curlew heard no more.

    Whilst I believe open space should be enjoyed by all, I also believe the time has come for a complete review of the open access law as in its current unregulated form, it simply does not work and is grossly detrimental to all those that live, work and breathe this unique place.