The Antrim Hills breeding wader programme

The RSPB are advising farmers within agri-environment schemes in the Antrim Hills to manage breeding wader habitat sustainably in an attempt to increase the populations of curlew, lapwing, snipe and redshank.

Curlew Numenius arquata standing on hill in front of lake


Breeding wader populations throughout the country have declined rapidly.

Three strongholds for breeding waders were identified in Northern Ireland (Fermanagh, Sperrin Foothills, Antrim Hills). The RSPB is already influencing the management of one stronghold in Co. Fermanagh.
The Sperrins site has weakened considerably and therefore efforts are directed towards the Antrim Hills where many farmers are in agri-environment schemes and have breeding wader habitat on their farms. The RSPB identified the need for good habitat management advice following the poor historic management of these sites. Breeding Wader Surveys are undertaken in an attempt to record progress.


  • Maintain and increase breeding numbers of Curlew, snipe and Lapwing in the Glenwherry project area.
  • Advise, train and encourage farmers regarding sustainable breeding wader habitat management within their DARD Agri-environment Scheme.
  • Improved condition of breeding wader habitat.
  • Expansion of breeding wader habitat.

Planned Work

  • Getting grasslands grazed appropriately for the nesting breeding season.
  • Extensive rush cutting.
  • Rush cutting demonstrations.
  • Annual bird surveys.
  • Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Staff have been trained on breeding wader habitat management.


  • The project is situated in a 60 square kilometre area of the Antrim Hill.
  • Working with approximately 40 farmers
  • Covering 45 square kilometres of farmland with 15 square kilometres of breeding wader habitat.




Coast on a stormy day

Donnell Black

Site Manager, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: Northern Ireland Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Upland Species: Curlew Species: Lapwing Species: Redshank Species: Snipe Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy