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Cats, Dogs and Birds

We are now in the full breeding season for ducks and moorhens with several broods already hatched and swimming about on the River Lambourn. They have a number of enemies at this time of year but cats and dogs are two that we can have some influence over.

Cats

The mother ducks and hens are quite savvy about where they build their nests and how they shepherd their chicks: this, coupled with the fact that cats generally hate water (see exception below…), gives them some protection. 

 

RSPB Advice

Here are some tips from the RSPB for cat owners who also love birds. Sometimes, as this video shows, we have to intervene more directly and have discovered that keeping a loaded water pistol handy provides a useful deterrent…Cats most enjoy hunting in the half-light of dusk and dawn so we keep ours in overnight.

Dogs

Dogs love water and also love chasing birds, causing havoc and panic in the process. If you own a dog, please do not let it into the river at this time of year. Please also make sure it’s kept under control at all times and ideally kept on a lead. We had a dog bound through our garden recently and into the stream, destroying a moorhen nest and scaring lots of ducklings. There was no owner in sight and it didn’t have a collar or nametag. If you’re taking your dog for a walk on commons such as Greenham and Sneslmore, there are also many ground-nesting birds such as nightjars, skylarks and warblers which can easily be disturbed. Again, please make sure your dog is kept under control and if necessary on a lead. Dog owners also need to be aware of the problem of dogs chasing sheep. This can result in criminal prosecution.  
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