OVER THE weekend our clocks went forward and with it came the start of spring, with longer days and hopefully better weather – which means daily dog walks are likely to grow in number.

Organisations involved with the Cairngorms National Park this week reminded dog walkers that it is a very important time of year for ground nesting birds, so they should tread lightly, stick to the paths – and for those with dogs – ensure they are kept on a lead between April and August.

Outdoor Access Officer at the CNPA, Adam Streeter-Smith, said: “From Lapwings and Curlew in wetland areas to Capercaillie in the woodlands and Dotterel on the high tops – all these species are vulnerable to disturbance by human activity. If you are passionate about the Cairngorms National Park and the amazing wildlife that makes it so special our advice to everyone – walkers, bikers, horse riders – is stick to the paths this spring and summer," he urged. "In addition to that – if you have a dog with you – please keep it on a lead, or at least, under very close control.”

Cairngorms Nature Manager Andy Ford, added: “Dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ but sadly that is not the case if you are a ground nesting bird. In certain areas like forests or wetlands dogs can be a real threat to wildlife. Your pet may be well behaved but it doesn’t take much for a nesting female to be disturbed and scared away from the nest, leaving eggs to chill, young to die of cold or fall prey to other creatures.”