There's a housemartins nest on Raindogs (8a) at Malham Cove this year (and also Seventh Aardvark (7b), Bat Route (8c), The Maximum (7c+), Rainshadow (9a), Overshadow (9a+), Raining Bats and Dogs (8c) and Skyjack (7c+)).
A team climbed on it today despite six folk separately asking them not to! Please don't climb on it until they have fledged (Sept/October potentially), you are upsetting many climbers aswell as the birds in question. They are a protected species, and it seems grossly selfish to endanger them rather than pick another route, or wait couple of months.
is it possible to remove, or at least tape the hangers off for now?
If they had been asked not to climb the route by several other climbers but ignored those requests I would have just took photos of them and exposed them for the bell ends that they are.
They had enough advice / warnings
In reply to John Kettle:
Good, it’s not rocket science to work this stuff out.
In reply to DerwentDiluted:
That is really irresponsible of the pop group from Hull, it’s not happy hour at Malham
Looking the logbooks someone else was on it after them as well. Sigh. We’d left by then.
In reply to DerwentDiluted:
> I have asked the Housemartins to refrain from nesting on this route until the junior competitor has fledged.
Maybe they could move into a caravan for the time being?
Or head off to the beautiful South
In reply to Ian Dunn:
Wow, either way. I’m coming to realise what a selfish, entitled bunch a lot of climbers actually are. No respect for the natural environment or other climbers.
Who does things like this? Just climb something else.
In reply to mrphilipoldham:
I pm'd him and seems he wasn't aware. I can't be certain I never climbed a route affected by nesting birds when I was in my twenties. But obviously it's something that is learned by spending time outdoors and learning from others etc. I'm surprised an outdoor activity doesn't have a module on environmental damage/risk.
I wouldn't hesitate to take their photo and call the RSPB (can you call 101 in this situation?). Referring to OPs post not this guy.
Alright I've been made aware of the nesting bird situation (I originally thought the protected birds were situated above the cove) and I apologise on that. I wasn't climbing on Raindogs purposely to be a nuisance and even though I see some people may be doing that out there I would not like to be tarred with the same brush as them. My apologies again and thanks for informing me.
In reply to duncan b:
> I felt the same way about the recent "Corona at Kilnsey" thread and various threads which called out people for climbing during lockdown.
I feel this is pretty different to the Kilnsey thread (which I agree with you on) where there was always going to be two sides to the story. This seems pretty clear, multiple parties saying they asked them to stop with the culprits blatantly ignoring them. It just shows total arrogance IMO. These plucky little birds come all the way from Africa (who can blame them, it's a lovely spot). Beats their two or whatever hour round trip to the crag and desire to get on a project any day of the week. The RSPB also frequently monitor Malham I am told so, even if someone doesn't care about the birds, surely if they're climbing there they should care about future access?
In reply to mrphilipoldham:
Quallies? Oh palease!
Fair play for commenting. It's worth learning the signs to look out for when spotting nesting birds and always watch the route for a while before you get on it, especially during the breeding season. If there's an active nest the parents will be coming and going quite regularly with food. Lesson learned
In response to training qualifications. Bird protection and restrictions are part of the syllabus for the Rock Climbing Instructor course, but not for the Climbing Wall Instructor (hopefully not too many nesting birds at your local wall!).
Interesting. If there's to be a steady flow of 'indoor' folk coming outside, with restricted access to the local walls then perhaps the CWI needs it too anyway!
I remember being lambasted for questioning why sport climbing had equal prerequisites (in that you had to have done it all over the country) to trad in the syllabus for one of the qualifications, and it was said that a good instructor should know about climbing throughout the UK. The same principle should apply in that it's inevitable that indoor instruction will lead to outdoor climbing, and even a warning of the issues from indoor instructors would go a long way. There's clearly an issue with people who enjoy climbing, have started out indoors and then moved outdoors who have little knowledge on the environments that they're going to climb in.
Right, this ones a little painful. We broke the rules a week or so ago. I would say we didnt know but its bloody obvious the nest is there and I challenge anyone not to notice the bird coming and going to the nest. That excuse is not valid.
We are however very new to outdoor climbing and take advice from everyone we can to stay safe and not have incidents like this. This includes john kettle.
As with anything these days whether it is brexit or Corona, joe public tend to make their own interpretation of rules/guidance. We interpreted the bird nesting comments in the guide book to apply to the falcon which this most definitely wasnt. But the guide book does focus on the falcon. We discussed it, we didnt know what kind of bird it was but misjudged it not to be significant as there were multiple teams/groups climbing close by on lines the op mentioned earlier. Not once did anyone come to us and highlight any issues. If we had we would have been mortified. I was informed of the issue directly by John and I totally respect him having the balls to say something directly rather than the usual muttering behind people's backs. How else do we learn. It will be the first thing I check in future.
What I am getting at is that we need to educate people as often as we can. I cant believe that between our team and all the other teams on malham that day someone didnt know it was wrong. Why didnt they speak up like the 6 times on this incident. Don't just say entitled or indoors climbers. Approach them as often as possible and show them their errors.
Absolutely gutted to have contributed to this kind of incident when we are just starting out. Even with the vast array of people we have access to advice we still got it wrong.
As I'm sure you're now aware, and for the benefit of anyone reading in the future, all nesting birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act whether it's a pigeon or a peregrine. There's no interpretation required and ignorance is no excuse should the law come knocking.
Glad you've learned
Thanks for posting, bet that was painful to type for you.
Just to clarify the legals around this. Intentionally damaging or destroying the nest of any wild bird is an offence under the act, but "intentionally or recklessly" disturbing a nest is only an offence if the birds are Schedule 1 listed - which house martins are not.
Having said that, there's no reason that we should not go beyond mere compliance. As has been mentioned, the birds travel a long way to Malham - often with the same individuals visiting us at the crag each year - and are trying to rear their young. Disturbing them and causing a risk to the chicks is cruel as much as anything else.
On another point, I know that Rob Dyer mentioned in a recent Facebook Live access update that different species of birds are generally more resilient and tolerant of climbers near their nest. I think there is also a reasonable amount of variation within the species as well? Does anyone know where information can be found about which birds are most sensitive?
Well done for holding your hands up and listening. Don't forget to spread the word too!
Fair play to you for fessing up and apologising but did you not see the bird flying in and out like another poster says?
Also you don’t seem to have climbed anything harder than than 7a, what on earth were you doing needlessly disturbing nesting birds on a route so far above your top grade?
You must have known you had no chance. This all just seems so needless?
In reply to duncan b:
> Am I the only person conflicted by these kind of threads? Of course you shouldn't be climbing Raindogs if Housmartins are nesting but is (almost) publicly naming and shaming the culprits the best way to approach these things?
The people involved were reportedly asked to desist by six separate people. If so, their behaviour is moronic and deserves to be called out.
> On another point, I know that Rob Dyer mentioned in a recent Facebook Live access update that different species of birds are generally more resilient and tolerant of climbers near their nest. I think there is also a reasonable amount of variation within the species as well? Does anyone know where information can be found about which birds are most sensitive?
I don’t think there’s a good definitive answer, because not only is there variation both between and within species, but also at different times and dependent on location. A few examples
To take one close at hand, Peregrines nesting on Malham are likely to be relatively tolerant of people as they see people regularly. Hence why climbing can continue on the rest of the crag. Peregrines nesting at the top of a remote Lakes valley might be disturbed by people appearing a long way off.
I’ve been monitoring Kestrel pairs on the Peak grit crags this year – they’ve been more successful than usual (I think) despite plenty of incidental disturbance (that couldn’t reasonably be avoided) but probably because they settled down to nest during lockdown i.e. they’re easily disturbed early in the season, but once underway appeared to be pretty resilient.
Some Ring Ouzel pairs can tolerate groups of people sitting 10m from the nest, others start alarm calling when you appear 50m away. Even the direction from which the adult birds tend to access their nest can influence how close by people can be without causing a problem.
So - House Martins, given their more usual places of residence, I would expect to be pretty tolerant of people in general. Exactly what disturbance they can withstand - well a few quick redpoints of adjacent routes every few days may be fine, a single two hour session of someone sieging directly below the nest, at the wrong time, maybe not.
Either way, as most people realise, avoiding the routes they’re directly nesting in is a good start.
> That is really irresponsible of the pop group from Hull, it’s not happy hour at Malham
Maybe it was Happy Hour?
It's a pity that two teams have climbed it without realising that the nesting housemartins mean they should not have done so. Yes, everyone should know that they shouldn't climb any route with an obviously active nest on or near it (and it might be argued that someone working towards an outdoor instruction qualification has less excuse than others...) but they've commendably held their hands up and apologised. I don't think they should feel too bad about this, as they've obviously taken it on board for the future!
And it's worth mentioning that the RAD has nothing these routes - it'd be worth someone who knows the area flagging the issue on there. And/or asking the RSPB to put up a notice near the base?
But if someone's been asked repeatedly not to climb because of the nest - and if that someone is a sponsored climber, someone who takes money from the sport in return for being an ambassador - then I do tend towards breaking out the pitchforks.
Ignorance that nesting birds are on a route is one thing but some people seem oblivious that climbing a route with a nest on may disturb the birds (either that or don't care if it does). There was a nesting Wagtail on Central Groove recently and someone climbed it TWICE, even commenting on the logbook 'The bird made me jump again.'
> On another point, I know that Rob Dyer mentioned in a recent Facebook Live access update that different species of birds are generally more resilient and tolerant of climbers near their nest. I think there is also a reasonable amount of variation within the species as well?
I once sat on a belay ledge at Malham with a peregrine just a few feet away. Completely unconcerned. This was after the nesting season.
This guy was one of them - "Travis Bland" who is he in real life?
In fairness to Travis he has written an apology above.
> Also you don’t seem to have climbed anything harder than than 7a, what on earth were you doing needlessly disturbing nesting birds on a route so far above your top grade?
I was thinking it but i'm glad you said it...
However- Flailing up a route way above your ability is a great way to improve. They probably couldn't believe their luck that an all time classic was free. Normally you'd piss a lot of people off top roping that, I would imagine.
Hopefully someone else put the draws in the top for him....?
I guess there are a few things. Should you be climbing a route with nesting birds? No. Should you climb it after 6 people tell you not to? No. Should you publicly out them? I'm really not sure. This thread hasn't been too bad but often you get around 50 posts insulting the alleged culprit and the thread begins to resemble the comments section of an online tabloid rather than a climbing forum.
I note that a couple of people have come forward and admitted to climbing Raindogs with the nesting birds. It seems they didn't fully understand the situation. Might it have been better to start a thread highlighting that climbers inexperienced with the outdoors have been climbing routes with y nesting birds and suggest the more experienced climbers out them right when they see this happening?
If you read his comment again he clearly and immediately clarifies whether he was aware of the bird being there. To his credit he was very honest.
> Also you don’t seem to have climbed anything harder than than 7a, what on earth were you doing needlessly disturbing nesting birds on a route so far above your top grade?
> You must have known you had no chance. This all just seems so needless?
This makes it sound like you would have found it more acceptable if he was an 8b climber. I know this is not what you meant, but it's no worse just because it's a tad above his grade.
I think its a non-issue. The two that have come on and fessed up have taken it exactly as they should- a learning experience. no-ones said anything nasty.
The one person that hasn't commented is the one that ignored 6 other people, face-to-face, in the first instance so they are unlikely to be swayed either way by an anonymous online forum.
Because top roping a route a number grade harder than your max brings in other considerations such as; time spent on the rock, wear on the bolts, erosion (that ship may have sailed for RD). Its not a 'class' thing. someone who can warm up on RD may affect the birds less as they will be up and down with no bother, opposed to someone hanging around for an hour, grunting and shouting down for beta.
Both are bad, one is worse (IMO).
I think the point of this entire thread is that any kind of disruption of nesting birds should be avoided. Claiming it is any worse because the offender in question is on something too hard for him is missing the point entirely. It comes across as churlish to try and escalate the charge given that he came forward and owned up, stating clearly that he made a mistake out of ignorance, and has hopefully become part of the solution.
Also, I don't buy the whole "wear and erosion" thing with people trying stuff too hard for them. It must be miniscule in comparison to, for example, people charging up and down Popular soloing easy classics they have done 50 times before, which is a common 'nice weekend' activity.
ok mate, whatever.
He says "I've been made aware of the nesting bird situation (I originally thought the protected birds were situated above the cove)" I don't understand whether he knew there was nesting birds on the route that he was climbing, and just thought they weren't protected ones so he was good to go, or whether he found out there were birds (of any kind) on the route after he climbed it?
Sounds to me that he only became aware of the birds on the route after the fact? I dunno, maybe you read it the other way to me?
I realised retrospectively that I might have sounded like I would have been less annoyed if he was an 8a climber so thanks for recognising that's not what I meant ;)
That being said, I did think afterwards that if you're climbing something a whole number grade above your hardest ascent you'd probably look at the thing a bit more closely in advance than someone who has climbed dozens of times and is just warming up so maybe you'd be more likely to see the nesting birds?
Anyway, like you said, it's no better or worse whatever your grade is, I appreciate you pointing this out and clarifying.
I think we all know now why it was free ;)
Agree totally that top roping hard stuff is a great way to improve, not quite sure I'd go quite that far above my hardest!
Yeah I was wondering how he even got the top rope in. Did the other party who climbed it that day put it up for him? They'd been told about the nest...
I've been looking out for a report linked to my own recent experience and not seen anything but am recording it here now simply as an example of how the lockdown must have led to really quite widespread disruption for nesting birds (often unwittingly) including some that are certainly protected.
I'd be very surprised if nobody else has noticed it but there is an (abandoned) Ring Ouzel nest literally two feet from the start holds of Banana Finger but not immediately obvious. I was there a couple of weeks ago - extremely busy Saturday several weeks after the easing of lockdown - bouldering on my own. Walked past the area on my way along from Burbage Bridge as (of course) there was a group there. On way back some hours later went up and chatted to the group who were there, did the problems, then just before they went on and I headed back to the car, one of them noticed the nest. I realised straight away it must be a Ring Ouzel and moved away but (of course), no sign of any adult birds, given that lockdown had been relaxed for several weeks already.
Of course, under normal circumstances they would never have nested there as it's unlikely that there would ever be a period of more than 24 hours without somebody pulling on to BF itself, leading any prospective nesters to reconsider. And under normal circumstances no boulderer would be expecting to find a nest where it is. And, as I say, it's not immediately obvious so I suspect that when the adults did desert the first human visitors may well not have realised the disruption they were causing and the fact that, probably more than any other section of potential crag in the country, it sees a steady stream of interest would have meant that the chances of adults returning were pretty much non-existent, especially when compounded with the explosion in human numbers both above and below the crag all happening around the same time.
I've wondered if I should have reported it at the time but it's not clear to me what I would report as, as I say, nest definitely abandoned. And likelihood of being used (or even considered) as a nest site again must be zero. Very sad case though. Definitely a ring ouzel: I looked at the eggs, undamaged and checked pics when got home. Others must have seen it, before and since.
> In reply to Will Hunt
> I once sat on a belay ledge at Malham with a peregrine just a few feet away. Completely unconcerned. This was after the nesting season.
Probably a young one (although from that range if you know the difference it's easy to tell), they tend to be less bothered than the adults when they're waiting for mummy or daddy to come back with some grub.
Interesting fact: juvenile peregrines have slightly longer wings than the adults so that they're less likely to lose control during ariel manoeuvres.
That’s sad, and reinforces my belief that every single climber needs to be made aware of such things. Birds first, climbing second throughout breeding season. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve driven for your ‘send’.
Just realised - you must be the person who wrote the 2016 survey? Maybe you already know about the BF nest and its location in relation to previous nest sites? I'd be interested to know. From your report it looks like laying typically happens mid-late April and hatching some time in June? Lockdown easing would have happened during that period.
Indeed. I remember reading a UKC post some time in 'late lockdown' about being on the lookout for nests / signs of activity in areas where birds may not previously have been encountered (not specific to Ring Ouzels) IIRC. This particular site is especially problematic under the circumstances because the chances of everyone that visits those boulders being alert to the problem and also actually seeing the site is pretty low. I'd like to think that even the most committed boulderer would have moved away if they'd actually seen the nest and eggs straight after lockdown easing and / or understood the implications of an alarm-calling adult nearby, even if they didn't know anything about Ring Ouzels.
Yes, that's me. The Banana Finger nest is an interesting one. It was the second nest of a pair which had nested successfully a little further down the valley. First clutches are laid end of April-ish, if successful then second broods from June.
If you can remember the exact date you saw it can you let me know, that would be useful. It was reported to me the evening of 22nd June, and I put signs up first thing next morning. You must have been there before this. The female was still incubating on 22nd (she may previously have been away long enough for the eggs to chill, and so this was futile we'll never know - but also, never assume a nest is abandoned because you see eggs but no adult! And yes please report - on here/to BMC/me).
The nest had however failed by the 30th - the eggs were gone and the nest lining had been disturbed suggesting it had been predated. Whether this was disturbance related too we'll also never know - but at least no ascents reported in logbooks after 22nd.
Regarding lockdown - although you're right in general as to how this may have impacted some birds - in terms of this nest (and ouzels more generally, as it happens) that doesn't appear to have been the case. This nest will have been started at some point in June, when Burbage North was plenty busy. Ouzels can build a nest and lay eggs in the early mornings over a week or so, with plenty of people visiting/climbing in between - I have seen this happen a lot of times - and not be put off. If we get signs up in time the nests can (and do) still succeed - even in the busiest areas.
It would have been pretty amazing if this nest had succeeded - but last year a pair successfully raised two broods at Manchester Buttress, an equally busy location! This nest was very exposed too though, unlike those ones.
That's really interesting, and of course now I'm feeling very embarrassed for not reporting straight away. I've checked and it must have been Saturday 20th I was there. As a bit of a birder I would certainly have recognised a Ring Ouzel (though not necessarily it's alarm call immediately), and did take quite a while to look around, having moved back towards the path and there really was no sign. And it was so busy, in general, not just around BF buttress. That, combined with the timing - seemed very late for eggs - led me to assume (clearly wrongly), that it was abandoned. But you're right, I should have reported it on here immediately anyway. I suppose I feel slightly better in knowing that the pair had already produced a successful brood.
It was an extremely exposed site which amazed me, barely off the ground and with no real cover. That's intriguing to hear about all those other nests in busy sites though.
Well, lesson learnt for me anyway. Thanks for the detail and my apologies for not reporting at the time. Good luck with the monitoring.
Don't worry - it's not the first time it's happened that eggs have been assumed abandoned!
It's possible she hadn't started incubating yet when you saw it - they lay an egg a day, usually in the morning then often disappear off - and start incubating when there's a full clutch (usually 4).
I think the weather had been bad for the week up to the 20th so they probably had more opportunities with fewer people about to get the nest started.
Yes, that's true about the weather - it was pretty mixed that week and even on the Saturday I remember spending the morning wondering if / when it would start drizzling, before it cleared up in the afternoon. Didn't stop it being very busy though.
I'm pretty sure there were four eggs when I looked. I meant to ask before - how long are they thought to be able to leave the eggs before they become unviable? I'd assumed not much more than an hour but it sounds like it can be much longer? Have to confess I had no idea about that and I guess it would have changed my thinking at the time.
Thanks again anyway.
Despite the reason for the thread, I've really enjoyed your discussion with sg, fascinating stuff!
Does anyone know where hummingbirds nest? I've often had them 'accompany' me on routes in Yosemite. I've never noticed a nest.
Did anybody notice the nesting gulls in the BMC video from a few days ago, of the climbers on the sea stack, near Sandwood Bay?
> I'm pretty sure there were four eggs when I looked. I meant to ask before - how long are they thought to be able to leave the eggs before they become unviable? I'd assumed not much more than an hour but it sounds like it can be much longer? Have to confess I had no idea about that and I guess it would have changed my thinking at the time.
Before they start incubating they can be left for any amount of time - once they've started it will depend on the ambient air temperature. Usually the female is off for only 5-10 mins each hour to feed, but I've seen them leave voluntarily for up to 40mins. So yes maybe up to an hour exceptionally.
Yes, I was wondering about fulmars and the like on just about every climbing film I've seen set on sea cliffs.
Just wondering how much of an issue a few climbers are to nesting house martins. Reason I ask (and I am asking) is that at my house we've had at least one nest (one year we had five) for each of the last 15 years (except for this year for some reason). And my observations over this period are that pretty much nothing seems to bother them in the slightest - except maybe geckos tunneling into the nest and knicking the eggs. They've even seemed unfazed by the kestrels we have nesting just a few metres from their nests.
As above, different birds even of the same species will have certain acceptable levels of 'disturbance'. You'd assume the ones that set up on Raindogs are quite shy of people, whereas the ones that set up on your house not so much.
There were some kestrels nesting on one of the HVS at Hobson Moor last summer, and they were coming and going with food for their chicks (which unfortunately all fell from the nest, it was tiny) while people climbed neighbouring routes no bother. But the one that lives up the road from me disappears over the horizon before you can get within 100m.
The risk is not so much climbers passing by by, although as laid out above that is a consideration, but the fact that a skip of the foot or fall could totally destroy the nest which currently will have several chicks in it.
Just had a look and, surprisingly, Ring Ouzels are not schedule 1 birds! (There are in Northern Ireland)
It’s not illegal, therefore to disturb them but is to take/damage/kill them (or eggs/nest). Same applies to House Martins.
Legality aside, of course, we most certainly should not disturb them.
Most climbers will have come across a gull nest when climbing on sea cliffs. Perhaps the BMC should come up with clear guidance that goes above and beyond the legal situation?
That's very interesting. I'd never really appreciated that the eggs remain viable, suspended developmentally, for quite long periods before incubation commences and have just read a bit more about control of hatching synchrony and asynchrony and the relative benefits of each strategy in different species. All of which confirms that it really was a big mistake to assume an abandoned nest and shows just how important your work studying birds in the field really is in terms of understanding the interaction between behavioural ecology and reproductive biology.
I'm very envious of what you do! I assume the monitoring that you reported in 2016 is something you're continuing with? As your posts suggest, it's striking just how much disturbance many of these pairs appear to tolerate.
Thanks very much for all the explanation (and for not judging too harshly, at least in public!).
in construction if a nesting bird is found our company policy is to demacate a 4 metre radius area around the nest. this approach is approved by licenced ecologist. so i stay at least 4 metres away out of habit
This thread has given us some problems with certain replies which have been removed.
I am going to lock it now since the discussion on this issue seems to have run its course.
Molly Thompson-Smith has become the first British woman to onsight 8b with an ascent of Odysseus at Götterwandl in Tyrol, Austria.