The Avon Valley between Salisbury and Christchurch has historically supported nationally important populations of lapwings, redshank and snipe. However, breeding numbers have declined dramatically, with a 64% reduction in lapwings during 1982-2002. Recent monitoring of the lapwing population by the GWCT has shown that despite habitat improvements through the Higher Level agrienvironment scheme, predation is limiting population recovery.
The GWCT has secured EU LIFE+ funding to work with farmers in the valley to improve wader breeding success. This involves additional habitat works and non-lethal measures to reduce predation of eggs and chicks. This project will involve radio-tracking lapwing chicks on four sites to determine chick movements and survival rates, as part of our wider monitoring. The project will also involve locating untagged broods, taking chick biometrics, recording habitat variables and sampling invertebrates, with the aim of quantifying fine-scale habitat use and relating chick growth rates and condition to habitat structure and food availability.
Radio-tags will be fitted by GWCT staff and training will be provided in survey techniques and radio-tracking. Liaison with farmers and intensive fieldwork will be required during April-June. You should be self-motivated and expect long hours in the field, during which you will gain extensive experience of bird, insect and vegetation survey techniques. You will be working in a small team and have experienced staff on whom to call for advice. The project findings will have direct conservation relevance in terms of wet grassland management for breeding waders.
One place available, based at Fordingbridge.
Accommodation should be available for the field season. A driving licence is essential and a vehicle will be available for fieldwork.
Dr Andrew Hoodless