Scottish farmers to help breeding waders


Special equipment is being made available to Moray farmers to help protect waders breeding in the region. Farmland in south Moray is a particularly important area for Northern Lapwings and Eurasian Curlews, with more then 200 pairs of the birds nesting in land surrounding eight farms around Glenlivet and Tomintoul. This makes it one of the highest concentrations of each species in the north of Scotland, making the site a crucial one for the birds' continued presence.

Some 26 pairs of Eurasian Curlews breed throughout the area (Richard Aldam).

New equipment to attach to tractors that will help manage rushes and weeds is being made available for loan to local farmers. The tools will be on offer from August to March each year to prepare the habitats for the returning breeders in spring. The initiative has been funded by the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership (TGLP), which has received £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a range of environmental schemes.

Karen Cunningham, Conservation Officer for RSPB Scotland, commented: “Tomintoul and Glenlivet are, unfortunately, one of the few remaining hot-spots for breeding waders in Scotland, particularly in the north. Managing the habitat by enhancing existing wet grassland can create better conditions for them and as a result will give them the greatest opportunity to thrive.”

Last year there were 182 pairs of Northern Lapwings, 67 pairs of Eurasian Oystercatchers and 26 pairs of Eurasian Curlews spread across the eight farms near the villages. As well as helping prepare the nest sites for spring, the project will also aim to create shallow, muddy feeding areas for waders and their chicks during the breeding season. The first of these scrapes has already been dug near Tomintoul.

Lynn Cassells, TGLP’s Land Management Officer, added: “The equipment is a great resource for farmers in the Glenlivet and Tomintoul area, and will also benefit the important population of breeding waders. Furthermore, subsidised training is also being arranged so that they will all be certified to use them.”