It’s always a mistake to assume that raising money for a project is the difficult bit and that everything thereafter should be a breeze. We reached our target for RADmires some time ago thanks to the generosity of Ride Sheffield supporters and local businesses and yet the diggers and whacker plates still lie idle.
Why the delay? Well, although we’re building on land owned by the incredibly supportive Sheffield City Council, it falls within the Peak District National Park and it’s therefore essential everything is done by the book, archaeological, landscape and wildlife surveys all have to be completed.
Which brings us to nightjars. Not on this occasion an evening pint, the nightjar is in fact an endangered bird that just happens to love newly felled woodland such as Redmires plantation. And guess what? Yes, they’ve chosen that very place to nest this year.
Which is great, no? Nightjars are amber listed, i.e. they’ve seen a significant fall in numbers over the last few years and need protecting. Therefore, Sheffield City Ecology Team have been working closely with the Sheffield Bird Study Group to assess the number of birds that have moved in and the size of their territory.
Does this scupper our plans? Far from it, we’ve simply had to move the trail a few metres at one point so that it avoids the birds territory. Ride Sheffield were lucky enough to check out the birds at dusk a few days ago and it’s magical. They call in a very distinctive way and fly very close to anyone in their territory – a real privilege to be so close to such an unusual bird.
Will it have any long term effect on our ability to enjoy the trail? Well, it’s possible there might have to be a voluntary ban on night riding with powerful lights during the breeding season but that will probably be the only restriction. Once the woodland begins to regenerate, they will move on to pastures new.
In the meantime, they’re ours to look after. Mountain bikers love the countryside for all the right reasons, landscape, rad riding and wildlife, so let’s do all we can to look after our temporary guests.