Glenwherry breeding wader project

Breeding waders have declined by 83 per cent in Northern Ireland since 1987. One of the last remaining strongholds for these birds is the Glenwherry area of the Antrim Hills, where RSPB advisers have been working with local farmers since 2011 to reverse these declines.

Landscapes in the Thames Estuary near the site on reclaimed marshland on the Isle of Grain

Overview

Glenwherry is widely regarded as one of the best sites in the country for breeding curlew, supporting up to 10 per cent of the breeding population.

Objectives

  • To provide targeted advice and training to farmers on land management for breeding waders. To survey, monitor and record breeding wader numbers, productivity and habitats.
  • To maintain or increase the populations of curlew, lapwing and snipe within the project area.
  • To provide advice to any farmer whose land has the potential to support breeding waders.
  • To support farmers wishing to enter agri-environment schemes for breeding waders.
  • If you live in the Glenwherry area and have breeding waders on your land, please get in touch for a free advisory visit.
 

Progress

  • Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) 2011-2014

- Project launched in March 2011

- Wader surveys carried out in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 on more than 23.5 square kilometres of farmland 
- 200 plus advisory visits to 65 farmers 
- Glenwherry brothers James and David Bonnar win the Danske Bank and Farming Life wildlife farmer of the year 2014 award 
- Celebration event at end of project attended by more than 60 farmers

 

  • Curlew Trial Management Project

- Glenwherry selected as one of six sites in the UK for involvement in a new, five-year RSPB study assessing the impact of management interventions on curlew breeding success
- 10.5-square kilometre trial area and 6.7-square kilometre control areas identified and agreements reached with landowners to access land and carry out work
- Baseline bird surveys, fox transects and habitat assessments carried out in 2015

 

  • Other farms 2015-2019

- Habitat management advice continues to be delivered to all farmers not involved in the curlew trial project who were part of HELP

- Glenwherry conservation advisor position made permanent in 2015

- More than 70 farmers currently involved in the Glenwherry Breeding Wader Project

- A further 14.7-square kilometre of land surveyed for breeding waders outside of CuTMP sites in 2015

 

Planned Work

  • Habitat management interventions began in the CuTMP trial area in November 2015. This included rush control, tree and scrub removal and a range of grazing options 
  • A predator control contractor started operation between February and July 2016 in the CuTMP trial area 
  • Advisory visits to project farmers leading up to the breeding season

 

Results

HELP 2011-2014

  • More than 6 square kilometres of rush controlled, 15 wader scrapes installed, drains re-profiled and trees and scrub removed by project farmers
  • Breeding waders increase by 48 per cent in core survey plots 2011-2014 
  • Breeding waders increase by 28 per cent across the entire project area 2012-2014
  • Curlew numbers increase from 24 to 29 pairs on farms receiving habitat management advice
  • Curlew hatching rates increase from 39 per cent to 58 per cent
  • Monitored lapwing pairs showed an average productivity of 1.1 fledged chicks per pair enabling their numbers to increase from 29 pairs in 2011 to 37 pairs in 2014
  • Snipe numbers increase dramatically each year of the project. From 22 pairs in core plots in 2011 to 52 pairs in 2014.

CuTMP 2015 -2019

  • Glenwherry selected as one of six sites in the UK for involvement in new 5-year RSPB study assessing the impacts of management interventions on curlew breeding success
  • 10.5-square kilometre trial area and 6.7-square kilometre control areas identified and agreements reached with landowners to access land and carry out work
  • Baseline bird surveys, fox transects and habitat assessments carried out in 2015

Overall wader numbers 2015

  • More than 34 square kilometres hectares of suitable habitat were surveyed within the Glenwherry project area in 2015 – the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken 
  • 209 pairs of breeding waders recorded (46 curlew, 42 lapwing and 121 snipe) 

Funding

RSPB funded since the end of HELP in 2014
Tagged with: Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Upland Habitat: Wetland Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Species protection