They are still burning on the moors. Several people have commented to me that they did not think burning was allowed at this time of the year. Surely it is nesting time? Well yes, burning can still take place, until the 15th April, and yes, it is nesting time.
The normal time that burning in England is allowed is from 1 November to 31 March but in “severely disadvantaged areas” i.e. our moors, the shooting estates can apply for a license to extend this period to 15 April.
Last year, if you remember, we had a very dry spring and many ground-nesting birds, the Short-eared Owl, Peregrine and Meadow Pipit, as well as the Red Grouse, started to breed earlier. With the rain we have had this year we may well have reverted to the norm but who is to tell that global warming is not permanently affecting breeding patterns. As the estate would have had to apply for a licence to burn within this extended period a minimum of 28 days beforehand, a very long range weather forecast would have been needed to predict how dry it will actually be, much longer than the standard 5-day long range forecast.