Waders bucking the trend in Cairngorms National Park - Cairngorms National Park

Despite declining nationally, wading birds are continuing to do well in the eastern Cairngorms, where members of the Cairngorms Moorland Partnership (ECMP) have been working hard to conserve these special birds.

Figures for 2022 have just been published, revealing that a variety of wader species on ECMP land holdings are showing stable populations.

The ECMP, which is made up of five neighbouring estates in the eastern Cairngorms and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, have come together to better coordinate the delivery of public benefits alongside private objectives, enhancing habitat diversity, including woodland and scrub expansion and peatland restoration, encouraging diverse wildlife populations and the conservation of priority species, as well as generating a better understanding of moorland management.

One of the key areas of work that the ECMP has been focusing on is wader conservation. These charismatic birds – including oyster catchers, curlew, snipe and lapwings – head inland every spring to breed and rear their chicks before heading back to the coast for winter. During the spring and summer, gamekeepers and other estate staff count the birds and monitor their behaviour.

Jos Milner, East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership Officer said: β€œThe results for 2022 show numbers of breeding waders have remained relatively stable over the last five years, contrary to declines elsewhere. We have observed some variation between years, which could be caused by differing spring weather conditions, as well as differences in the total survey length each year and depending on staff availability. Our results compare favourably with wader densities recorded in farmland hot-spots across the Cairngorms National Park, and on average over the five years we found that combined densities of curlew, lapwing, oystercatcher, redshank and snipe are around 0.22 breeding pairs per hectare, which is encouraging.”

Surveying the birds involves walking transects each spring, with the total length varying between 21 and 36 km, and recording the number and behaviour of waders seen along the way. The methodology, established by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), uses the behaviour of individuals to determine breeding status.

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Posted On: 19/10/2022

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