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Survey of UK's coast highlights change in wintering waterbird populations - British Trust for Ornithology

The findings from a survey of the wintering waterbirds on the UK's non-estuarine coast, delivered by a network of volunteer observers, has revealed significant changes in the numbers of several waterbird species, including Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, and Sanderling.

The UK's wetlands, estuaries and non-estuarine coast are of international importance for the numbers of non-breeding waterbirds that they support. While long-term, volunteer-based surveys provide the valuable information needed on the waterbirds using these sites on an annual basis, these data are most complete for our wetlands and estuaries. We know that the 17,000 km of non-estuarine coast is important too, but is impossible to cover annually. For this reason, periodic surveys of the non-estuarine coast are needed if we are to secure a complete picture of these important waterbird sites.
During the winter of 2015/16, volunteers surveyed some 9,183 km of non-estuarine coast (53% of the total length), with the greatest proportion of this incredible effort (some 5,699 km) delivered in Scotland. From these data, researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) were able to calculate measures of waterbird abundance and distribution, revealing just how important this habitat is for wintering populations of Oystercatcher, Curlew, Turnstone, Dunlin and Redshank.
In terms of absolute numbers, Scotland has consistently supported the majority of the population across all non-estuarine waterbird surveys for Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Purple Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone. Although this is likely to reflect the relative length of the coastline for Scotland (12,714 km) compared to England (2,705 km), Wales (1,185 km) and Northern Ireland (328 km), Purple Sandpiper, Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone still appear to show a bias towards Scotland.

Access the report: E. M. Humphreys, G. E. Austin, T. M. Frost, H. J. Mellan, P. Boersch-Supan, N. H. K. Burton & D. E. Balmer (2021) Wader populations on the United Kingdom’s open coast: results of the 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS-III) and a review of population trends, Bird Study, DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2021.1884184

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