Nationally, large sums have been spent on habitat restoration for breeding waders through the Higher Level agri-environment scheme and now Countryside Stewardship, but this is not always delivering wader recovery. The Avon Valley in Hampshire and Dorset has historically supported nationally important populations of breeding waders and we are working with farmers on recovering numbers of lapwings and redshank (see www.wadersforreal.eu). However, predation of lapwing eggs and chicks has been identified as a major issue in our studies and those by others on nature reserves.
Although predation can limit wader productivity, wader eggs and chicks do not comprise the main prey of mammalian predators. The main prey of foxes on wet grassland is voles, and there is currently uncertainty about whether increasing the number of patches of taller vegetation, that supports more voles, within the landscape will divert foxes away from wader fields or increase fox activity in the landscape as a whole. This project will involve the deployment of 40+ trail cameras on wader recovery sites to document the relative abundance of foxes and badgers, alongside monitoring of lapwing nest outcomes and timing of predation at these sites. A stratified approach will be adopted to quantify the encounter rate of foxes and badgers in hay fields and grazed fields.
Cameras will deployed by GWCT staff in March and project fieldwork will be during April-June. You will be part of a small team and specialist advice will be available, but you should be self-motivated and prepared to work long hours.
One place available, based at Fordingbridge. Accommodation will be available. A driving licence is essential and a vehicle will be available for fieldwork.
Dr Andrew Hoodless