National charity, the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT), is urging the public to be mindful of wild bird breeding habitats while out in the UK countryside this summer.

With July being a key breeding period for many native and migrant species, and warmer summer days offering the perfect opportunity to make the most of the British countryside, many are unaware of the impact their activities can have on wild bird nest sites.

One species under specific threat is our beloved curlew, a ground-nesting bird.

Successful breeding is vitally important for maintaining the population of the curlew, along with other waders and ground-nesting birds such as grouse, merlins and skylarks.

Dr Vince Lea, head of wildlife monitoring at the CRT said: “Curlew numbers are in steep decline, and the species was added to the Birds of Conservation Concern 4 [BOCC4] Red List in 2015.

“When walking through moorland and upland habitats, it’s crucial walkers stick to the designated pathways, keep dogs on leads and be careful not to disturb potential nesting sites.

“Prolonged disturbance can cause birds to be off their nests for long periods, which increases various risks to the nest – chilling of eggs or chicks, particularly if it is raining or damp, and predation by species such as gulls, crows and stoats.”

While wildlife conservation on these habitats is on the whole taken seriously, Dr Lea believes there is still more to be done.

“The first step is to further educate the public about the potential risk, and the day-to-day action that can be taken to help protect these unique birds by following the Countryside Code,” he says.

“Walkers should also look out for the signals birds give. A wading bird flying around calling almost certainly has a nest nearby, whereas birds of prey and gamebirds will fly off calling. Generally sticking to paths in the breeding season and certainly not lingering in prime patches of habitat would be recommended.

“It’s great to see people reconnecting with nature, and spending their evenings and weekends exploring the fantastic countryside we have on our doorstep. But, please pay a special thought to the wildlife that nest and breed there, so we can continue to enjoy a living, working countryside for generations to come.”