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Partnership launches Caithness wildlife initiative

Last modified: 21 March 2013

Female lapwing in rushy pasture, Northumberland

The lapwing is just one species of bird that should benefit from the initiative

Image: Andy Hay

The Scottish Agricultural College and RSPB Scotland have joined forces to launch the Caithness Wetlands and Wildlife Initiative (CWWI). The initiative is also being supported by the National Farmers Union. The launch event was held on 20th March at a farm demonstration day held for local land managers.  

Dave Jones, RSPB Caithness reserves site manager, said, “Caithness has nationally important populations of wading birds, great yellow bumblebees and other special kinds of wildlife. It is vital that we, and other landowners, work together to maintain and improve habitat for these species and I am delighted that both the SAC and NFU are joining us in working to protect our wildlife heritage”. 

Iona Cameron, area manager with the  Scottish Agricultural College, said, “SAC see the CWWI project as an enormous opportunity for Caithness farmers and landowners to make a positive difference that will have lasting benefits within the area, we are delighted to be involved with the project and look forward to its future success.” 

Mr Jones added, “One of the aims of the Initiative is to help local farmers find ways of managing their land which helps wildlife. One way of doing this is by loaning a “topper” (a type of agricultural cutting machine), free of charge, to help farmers manage areas of rushes that have become overgrown. By “topping” rushes the ground is made better for grazing livestock as well as providing a much better habitat for breeding birds such as lapwings and curlews.” 

Other actions that are being encouraged by the Initiative include keeping damp areas in fields as they are important feeding areas for birds and to avoid, if possible, field operations during the breeding season in Spring. 

Mr Jones commented, “Six weeks is all it takes for a lapwing to successfully pair up and nest so, if possible, leave that amount of time between field operations in spring. Once hatched, waders will move chicks to more suitable feeding habitat. However disturbance of birds during bad weather can lead to the chilling of eggs and chicks, so please bear that in mind.” 

Mr Jones added, “Caithness is one of the most important areas in Britain for breeding wading birds. The whole idea of the partnership behind the Initiative is to keep it that way. Across Scotland, these populations have suffered serious declines so it is really important that we, in the far north, do our best to keep these populations in good shape.”

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