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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 September, 2003, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Rare birds favour popular peak
ringed ouzel - photo courtesy of Mike Richards and rspb-images.com
The rare bird is very similar to a blackbird
One of the UK's rarest birds has nested on a site in Derbyshire's Peak District visited by more than 500,000 people every year.

Two pairs of the ring ouzel - a protected species that look like a blackbird - have raised chicks on Stanage Edge near Hathersage.

Climbers and paragliders who use the crag were asked to avoid the nest site for a month while the protected species reared their young.

Matthew Croney, who manages the estate for the National Park Authority says the birds would not have survived without the co-operation of visitors.

Red-listed bird

"It is quite extraordinary that it is one of the busiest climbing crags in Britain and two pairs of ring ouzels managed to nest right in the middle of it.

"We asked people to avoid using certain routes - at the base of the crag to leave the area quiet for the birds.

"We also asked them to avoid their nests from the time when they built them until after the eggs were hatched."

The ring ouzel is a red-listed bird - the highest level of conservation concern - because the number of breeding pairs has dropped by 50% over the past 10 years and its range has contracted by 25%.

The birds nest on rock edges and feed on the insects in the bracken and then later on berries like rowan and bilberry before they fly to Africa.

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