TWO curlew chicks from a nest that came within a metre of being destroyed by a devastating moorland fire in the Peak District National Park appear to have survived.
Firefighters from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service acted quickly when the fire broke out at Beeley Moo, a couple of miles from Chatsworth House, in May.
Their quick actions contained the damage to an area of around 29 acres.
The following day Peak District National Park Authority ranger Pete Bush was assessing the damage caused when he came across a Curlew nest less than one metre from the point where the fire was stopped.
On returning to the site this week it appears the chicks have survived and taken their first flight.
Pete said: “When I arrived at the nest there was one chick hatched and one egg intact. An adult bird was calling nearby so I made a hasty retreat to allow it to return before predators found the nest and in the hope that the chick would survive despite the lack of cover.
“When I returned this week to see how the moor was recovering I was surprised to see the burnt area covered in fresh green moor grass.
“I found the empty nest with no sign of chicks or eggs but could hear the bubbling call of a Curlew nearby.”
All six fire services that operate in the Peak District National Park are part of the Fire Operations Group, a partnership project set up by the national park authority to prevent and deal with wildfires quickly and efficiently.
The group also involves staff from the water companies and other major landowners in the national park area.
It runs regular training sessions where firefighters, rangers and other land staff learn about the damage wildfires can cause and techniques for dealing with them.
Sean Prendergast, head of field services for the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “The early detection of fires is crucial as it allows firefighters, rangers and other participants to tackle the fires before they spread.
“This great story of the Curlews shows just how delicate and important these moorland habitats are and the threat they face from fires. If the fire crews had literally started tackling the fire a few minutes later then these birds would not have survived.
“However, if you get on top of the fires quickly and stop them then moorland grass will start to recover, as is already happening at Beeley Moor.
“This incident shows what a fantastic job Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and all the other members of the Fire Operations Group are doing in protecting some of our nation’s most important habitats.”