Grampian wader & wetland initiative

This project is monitoring wader populations across the Grampian region, advocating wildlife friendly farming and advising on Scottish Rural Development Priority payments.

Adult Lapwing feeding in wet meadow at Elmley Marsh RSPB reserve.

Overview

This collaborative project started in 2010 with the aim to improve and maintain the status of breeding waders in targeted farmland areas. The initiative takes a strategic approach to provide and improve high-quality wetland and wader habitat through targeted Rural Priorities applications. Rural Priorities are part of a government scheme (Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP)) which funds the uptake and/or maintenance of wildlife-friendly farming practices. This initiative involves the collaboration of agricultural advisors, conservation bodies and farmers, to ensure the use of SRDP funds is maximised to benefit both the farms and the breeding wader populations they support.
 
 
During the years of the project we have tried to gain a greater understanding of individual species and establish reasons for their declines. In 2012, we intensively monitored the productivity of lapwing at a sub-set of sites.
 
The project replicates action for breeding waders through more established projects in Strathspey, Caithness and the Clyde Valley.

Objectives

  • Short-term action to target priority breeding wader areas and work with agents and farmers to maximise management delivery
  • Medium-term action will involve ensuring appropriate future management is taken up by farmers.
  • Long-term action may involve advocating results for development of post-2013 support mechanisms, as part of the next Rural Development Programme.

Planned Work

22 sites in Grampian are being monitored. All of these were surveyed during 2011. In 2012, eight of the original 22 sites were surveyed. All but two of the farms were engaged in agri-environment management targeting waders. Two of these were farms entering the Rural Development Programme for the first time after GW&WI supported applications were successful.

The monitoring involved the standard three visits between late April and mid-June and more intensive breeding observations of lapwing on six farms. This involved locating a sample of nesting pairs and following through breeding attempts remotely to avoid disturbance, with particular focus on birds nesting within fields being managed as agri-environment options. Visits to each site were carried out approximately every two to five days. The aim of this monitoring was to attempt to establish whether fields being managed as part of a scheme were being used by breeding lapwing and whether these birds were producing young. In 2013, all 22 sites were surveyed again.
 
In collaboration with work being carried out in Orkney, during 2013 we began colour ringing curlew chicks in the Strathdon study area. This work aims to establish information on chick survival and movements from and within east Scotland breeding sites. We hope to build up a population of marked birds to help investigate issues such as recruitment rates, fledging and survival rates. The areas selected were centred on West Corriehoul, Garchory and Upperton. This work is set to continue.

Results

An area of approximately 27 square kilometres of in-bye farmland was surveyed in 2011 and 567 pairs of breeding waders were recorded. The most common breeding wader was oystercatcher, with 243 pairs. 204 pairs of lapwing and 76 pairs of curlew were also recorded. Counts of snipe and redshank were considerably lower.
 
An area of approximately 10 square kilometres of in-bye farmland was surveyed in 2012 and 287 pairs of breeding waders were recorded. 119 pairs of Lapwing, 103 pairs of oystercatcher and 37 pairs of curlew were recorded. Counts of snipe and redshank were considerably lower with 14 pairs each being estimated.
 
As part of the intensive monitoring of lapwing in 2012, 47-51 lapwing nests were located. 37-38 of these breeding attempts were known to have produced young.
 
An area of approximately 27 square kilometres of in-bye farmland was surveyed in 2013 and 522 pairs of breeding waders were recorded. The most common breeding wader was oystercatcher, with 223 pairs. 196 pairs of lapwing and 69 pairs of curlew were also recorded. Counts of snipe and redshank were considerably lower.

Partners

The Grampian Wader and Wetland Initiative (GW&WI) has involved:

Contacts

Coast on a stormy day

Hywel Maggs

Senior Conservation Officer, North East Scotland

hywel.maggs@rspb.org.uk
Tagged with: Country: Scotland Habitat: Farmland Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Species protection