Pee-wits and Peeps

A sure  sound of spring is the 'pee-wit' of lapwings, the 'peeping' of oystercatchers and the high, bubbling whistle of the curlew. The return of farmland waders from winter at the coast brings life and noise to the straths and uplands.

The Cairngorms National Park is one of the most important sites in Britain for birds such as lapwing, oystercatcher and redshank.

Farmland waders have been in serious decline since World War 2 as throughout Britain grassland was converted to arable land, marginal areas were drained and improved, and chemicals were introduced for fertilisers and pest control. Over the last 40 years lapwing has been lost as a breeder from most of South West England, Western Wales, and Western mainland Scotland.

However, the decline has been less in the Cairngorms where the land is managed much less intensively compared with other similar parts of Britain. Nevertheless, populations have declined by as much as 50% over the last 10 years.


Farmland waders require a range of land management techniques for creating the habitats needed for successful breeding. Different waders need different habitats. For example lapwing require recently ploughed land and redshank need wet areas and wet ditches. These were common, widespread features on most farmland across Scotland and projects like the Strathspey Wetlands and Waders Initiative are working with land managers in the Park to maintain and re-create them.

 

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