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Groundnesting birds and dogs

Groundnesting birds and dogs

The South Downs is home to a wonderful array of wildlife, especially birds, many of which nest on the ground in the heathland and amongst the gorse of open downland. 

Species such as the woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler have found a footing in parts of the South Downs. Between March and September, these birds choose to nest and raise their young in the National Park. 

To help protect these birds, it’s really important for dog walkers to stick to the paths and keep their dogs on the lead. This will help ensure nests remain undisturbed and keep potential threats away from vulnerable baby birds. 

If your dog likes to run through the undergrowth exploring, try to keep them on the path by playing scent games with them, or practising recalls. Eggs can be tasty treats to lots of dog breeds, but sadly that quick dog snack is often the only chick that bird may have that year.

On many heathland sites adders are present. This is another reason to keep your dog(s) under close control and out of the bushes as a snake bite can be lethal for some dogs.


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."