The clocks change on March 27th and the UK will soon be warming up! Don’t forget to check for bird restrictions before you go climbing. Many restrictions are already in place. The UK is important for a number of different species of bird and climbers can easily have a negative impact during the nesting season.
The earliest bird restrictions in the UK start in February with the majority underway by April 1st. Climbing on restricted crags can lead to more long term access issues that affect all climbers. Conservation bodies and land owners take a particularly dim view of restrictions being broken. Checking which crags are open maintains goodwill for climbers and means increased access in the future. Land owners and conservation bodies are more likely to unrestrict an area quickly once chicks have fledged if there have not been any problems with climbers during the nesting period.
As well as regular annual restrictions on crags there are often restrictions that come into effect only when birds start to build nests. Classic examples of this are the Ring Ouzels that nest around the Green Crack area of Stanage and the Peregrine nests at the Roaches in Staffordshire and various crags in the Lake District. Some years birds will not nest in these areas and there are no restrictions. When there are restrictions there will often be signs around the approaches to the crag. Keep a look out for these signs and check the Regional Access Database (RAD) to be sure of a particular crags status.
The British Mountaineering Council publishes a list of crags which have annual bird restrictions and it is worth downloading or picking it up at your local climbing wall. The BMC also runs the Regional Access Database which allows you to search for individual crags and see what restrictions are in place.