14 June 2016

A better year for lapwings in the Avon Valley

Despite the rain, hail and cool temperatures in late April and early May, survival of lapwing chicks in the Avon Lapwing ChicksValley has been higher than average this year, reports the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT). The lapwing is a species of conservation concern, with lapwing numbers across the UK in sharp decline, so this positive result is important for the local population in the Avon Valley.

There were approximately 75 breeding pairs in the Avon Valley this spring.  Many of the early nests were situated on ground high enough to survive the rising water levels, so a reasonable proportion of clutches survived to hatching. Now many broods are close to fledging.

Lizzie Grayshon, GWCT Waders for Real Project Ecologist, explains: “We are encouraged to see the chicks surviving so well this year, and believe that they have been helped by damper conditions in fields this spring and lower rates of predation.  We estimate that we have had 75 pairs of lapwing with at least 30 broods across 15 farms this year; several of these have now fledged. We have fitted a sample of chicks with very small radio-tags shortly after hatching, to track their movements and survival on the meadows.  To date we have radio-tagged chicks from 20 different broods and survival is looking much better than in 2015.  It will be another three or four weeks before we can produce final figures but the indication is that more chicks will fledge this year.”

 The GWCT has monitored breeding waders in the Avon Valley for over 20 years and recording of lapwing breeding success over the last eight years has shown that numbers of chicks fledging are too low to support a stable breeding population.  The EU LIFE-funded 'Waders for Real’ project was launched in 2015 with the aim of reversing the decline of breeding waders in the Avon Valley.  The GWCT and students from Sparsholt College have been working with farmers and landowners to improve habitat for these birds and reduce predation of nests and chicks by crows and foxes.

 For more information on the LIFE Waders for Real project, see www.wadersforreal.eu

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
James Swyer
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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