by Trevor Baxter
DOVESTONE RSPB site manager Dave O’Hara believes Saddleworth’s worst moorland fire in nearly ten years was not as devastating to birdlife as first feared.
Eight hundred acres of grassland and a newly planted forest were destroyed by the huge blaze started at Alderman rocks in early April.
Wildlife experts predicted wipeout for any animals and birds caught up in the huge blaze.
However, relieved O’Hara told the Saddleworth Independent: “It could have been a lot worse. It happened before most birds had started nesting.
“The Fire Brigade, Mountain Rescue, the farmer and his family did a fantastic job stopping it spreading onto the more extensive area of the moorland.
“While it was still a large area, they kept it contained to the grassy edge of the moors towards Pots and Pans.
“And birds like meadow pipits and skylarks had probably not started to nest at that stage.”
O’Hara is also delighted to confirm Dovestone’s resident Peregrine Falcons have boosted the breed’s population.
“It’s been a cool spring but it’s looking very good,” he added. “The Peregrines have hatched chicks again which is excellent news.
“There are chicks most years but the wardens are always nervous as to whether the birds will be successful.
“We’ve got breeding birds on the moors as well. But at this time of year it’s all about asking people to keep their dogs under control because of the birds and the lambs.”