31st May 2020
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Whaap keeps thriving in the isles despite decline in Scotland

Curlews in Shetland are bucking a national declining trend, according to isles research.

Paul Harvey, natural heritage officer at Shetland Amenity Trust said the Shetland population of breeding waders is holding up pretty well, based on snapshot data since 2002.

Figures from Scottish Natural Heritage’s Index of Abundance for Scottish Terrestrial Breeding Birds, has shown 10 of 17 upland species fell in numbers between 1994 and 2016 in Scotland.

Breeding curlews were down 62 per cent, golden plover 43 per cent and lapwing, down 63 per cent were among the declines.

SNH has said work is being done to reverse the declines including peatland restoration and a Working for Waders project.

The curlew remains a priority for the RSPB, with a “curlew crisis” month being held across the UK in May.

Mr Harvey said with the redshank and lapwing there was some evidence of decline, maybe about 10 per cent since 2002.

The golden plover may also have seen “maybe a slight decline”, although Mr Harvey put “a big health warning” on such a view.

He said there was no indication that the curlew population was in decline in Shetland, and might even have seen an increase.

According to the trust there are about 2,300 breeding pairs of curlews in the isles, 1,170 breeding pairs of redshanks, 1,450 breeding pairs of golden plovers and 1,740 breeding pairs of lapwings.

“Everyone knows Shetland is fantastic for seabirds, but actually we’ve got fantastic waders as well,” said Mr Harvey.

Part of the reason, he said, was it was difficult to have very intensive agricultural schemes because of relatively poor soils and distance from the mainland and there was lots of room wildlife.

He added in the isles a lot of crofters had gone into agri-environmental schemes, which by and large had helped the environment.

RSPB community engagement officer Karen MacKelvie is holding an event at Quarff Hall on 12th May. Its aim is to raise awareness of Shetland’s waders and it will include live music as well as schools hopefully providing artwork and learning more about the birds.


About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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  1. Graham Fleming

    So the census is in and the population of Shetland is rising (not just humans).Da Phaaps are very much alive and kicking – joost bra . I can remember as a borders bairn plooterin through the fields,and hearing the phaaps and peewits (lapwings) nesting. Those days are lang gan,lose our wildlife and we lose a big bit of ourselves. Here’s hoping da coont o da bonxies and ither squackie maws on Shetlaun are gan da richt airt.There is one isn’t there?

  2. Leslie Sinclair

    Im not a farmer or crofter but I remember the sound of curlews and other birds.
    When farmers grew more crops and had less( sheep) (not referring to the bible ones.
    there seemed to be more birds around.

  3. Leslie Sinclair

    An increase in curlews and lapwings but fewer of other birds .

    • Graham Fleming

      Great news for the whaups on the islands but does anybody hear the corncraiks or qualzies anymore.Orkney had a mini revival a few years back,but on the mainland they are few and far between. Is the Shetland corncrake still with us?

  4. Leslie Sinclair

    Hes right.

  5. ian tinkler

    A few more Windfarms will soon sort the Whaaps out. Mind you, the usual wet, gutless wildlife supporters and photographers, will sit on there hands as usual.

  6. David Spence

    There is no doubt human activity is having a massive impact on the environment but also many eco-systems and species of life within those fragile eco-systems.

    What is the driving force behind this destruction and what does drive humans to continue this destruction regardless to the long term future of life on this planet and maybe even the planet itself?

    The human-made concept of money, and nothing else. This destructive force has no morals or conscience when it comes to gratifying itself for the greater good of itself, even if killing other human beings in the process is, as it see’s it, justified to gain and dominate even more.

    You may scoff at the idea the human-made concept of money and selfish-wealth, has no baring, but all you have to do is look around you, look within you and see the destruction reaching well beyond your imagination, but you refuse to accept it exists because it has conditioned you to only think short term and ignore the long term consequences.

    Technology has also played its part, but this in itself, is driven by commercial interests for the few, but at the cost to the many, including life and the planet.

  7. leslie sinclair

    Bring back organic farming.

    • David Spence

      Les, I think this has been done extensively under the commercial banner of ‘ organic foods ‘ and this has been used to rip-off the consumer by charging much more for the said product.

      The Supermarkets, which controls 70% of the food market, have used this banner of organic foods for sometime, and we have been foolish enough to pay premium prices for such food without questioning the methods used for this so-called food branding, especially in meat production.

      I believe the UK imports 40% of its meat from other countries, as the amount of land for home grown meat production is getting smaller and smaller due to population and industrial growth?

      I was watching a programme on chicken production, and all the hallmarks of factory farming were clearly noted by the bruising on the leg joints and muscle loss on other parts of the body. They also looked at ‘ organic food ‘ and noticed the exact same marks on what was deemed ‘ organic chicken ‘. The majority of consumers did not question whether the chicken was factory or organically reared, not that it made much difference, apart from the Supermarkets making larger profits.

  8. ian tinkler

    David, you should look a little deeper. The driving force behind mankind’s destruction of the environment is mankind’s selfish wish to procreate ad!nausium. If we continue to overpopulate Earth at the present rate, short of interstellar migration we will destroy this planate and ourselves and most life on Earth within a couple of generations. Sadly our leaders lack the balls to state the obvious.

    • David Spence

      Over population will be a major problem within the next 50 – 100 years, Ian. China, which had the 1 child per family policy has increased this to 2 children per family, due to its economy thriving at the present moment.

      However, India with a population of over 1 billion has not enforced any form of population control, and is growing faster than China. It would not surprise me if India, becomes the most populated country within the next 20 years or so.

      You are correct Ian, in the impact of uncontrolled population growth will pose serious problems within a short time, certainly within under-developed countries, but it will also enforce developed countries to grab control of certain resources for their own economic necessity and commercial interests.

      Climate change will also mean, I think, the mass migration of people to other parts of the world due to adverse affects of weather and area’s of the world turning into deserts or uninhabitable lands.

      This may cause political, economical and even war for countries affected by climate change and/or mass migration of people?

      Agriculture is the largest cause of destruction of eco-systems, extinction of species and global warming.

  9. Ian Tinkler

    “Agriculture is the largest cause of the destruction of eco-systems, extinction of species and global warming. ” What utter nonsense David. All agriculture does is to try and feed an overpopulated Earth, as so does, hunting (for food) such as Fishing, Whaling and “Bushmeat” hunting. A long list of environmental exploitation is self-evident to most sane and educated rational people. Providing an overpopulated planet with food for humanity is the motivation, whether Capitalist or Communist, that understandable and necessary. I am frequently accused of being Trump-like, I regard that as no insult. I do not agree with most of Trump’s nonsense, but he at least speaks his mind without the PR idiocy. Here is a Trump-like comment, how about limiting overseas aid to contraceptive advice and condoms!!!

    • David Spence

      Well Ian, I would beg to differ on your view Agriculture does not have an impact on eco-systems and/or the extinction of species.

      Natural habit destruction also incorporate exploitation of natural resources (palm oil, wheat etc) but I would guess much of this destruction is due to Agriculture.

      As you have mentioned Ian, the population is increasing, as a consequence of this, more land is required for the production of food as well as grazing land for livestock.

      I do not have much information of the production of food using the sea and oceans, but I am sure this will be looked into.

      In regards to the environment, I believe Agriculture produces six times more greenhouse gases than all of transportation put together.

      I would have to say Ian, even if you include industrial processes, Agriculture is most likely the largest contributor to the destruction of natural habitat and the extinction of species.

      This will become more evident as our population increases.

      I think population control may well happen within the next few decades, for obvious reasons. How this will be done would be a matter of great debate?

  10. Shuard Manson

    Whatever happened tae da Spui?

    • Graham Fleming

      What kind of bird or beastie is a Spui,never heard o that ane?

      • Allen Fraser

        Ye’ll see plenty spui hens ootside Glesca pubs n clubs efter closin.

  11. David Spence

    I found this youtube video highly interesting and thought provoking in regard to the impact humans are having on the planet and the extinction of species and eco-systems affected by this and what the long term solution is for humans to co-exist with nature and preserve the complexity of life on this planet


  12. Shuard Manson

    I may not have spelt it correctly. It’s the Shetland name for a Whaap. Most Shetlanders don’t know this.

    • David Spence

      Shuard, Whaap is the Shetland name for a Curlew, and the Shetland word for a Whimbrel (similar to the Curlew) is Tang-Whaap, according to the Shetland Dictionary.

      • Shuard Manson

        Scots name is Whaap.

    • ian tinkler

      To uote you Davis, “I do not have much information of the production of food using the sea and oceans, but I am sure this will be looked into.” That is usually called fishing, David!
      “I would beg to differ on your view Agriculture does not have an impact on eco-systems and/or the extinction of species.” Not what I said at all, David! Please do not miss quote me and actually read what is written!
      “I think population control may well happen within the next few decades,” Population control has already started, David. Increase in human density causes infective disease, and countless examples such as “Plague, HIV, TB etc also overpopulation and lack of resources with violent competition for the same. Most recent Wars started that way, countless examples in history.

      • David Spence

        lol I take your point about fishing, whether it is fish or shellfish etc. I was meaning more in the way of hydroponic technology, Ian. I suspect this will be used more and more to reduce the impact of farming on land and the negative impact this will have on eco-systems and life itself?

        I apologise for mis-quoting you, Ian.

        However, as the population grows, more and more land will be required for the production of food, including land for grazing lifestock, and this will have an impact of natural habitats and determine whether a species lives or becomes extinct?

        I see your point in certain diseases coming back, possibly due to over-crowding, but also viruses and bacteria becoming more resistant to anti-biotics.

        Google the documentary ‘ Micro-Birth ‘ Ian. It is a fascinating documentary into human immune system and the impact of having birth naturally or by caesarean, which is becoming more common, and the long term implications of having a weaker immune system due to the type of birth you have. By the year 2030, unless billions is spent on research for new drugs, the world will face a much dangerous world to live in?

  13. Shuard Manson

    Call it what you want. I really dinna mind

    • ian tinkler

      Why ever did you join this discussion in the first place Shuard, I you really do not mind? Never mind, I am sure inventing new names such as the strange Spui bird keeps up the amusement for all. I love dialect, especially when it made up.

      • Shuard Manson

        I am humbled by your comment Ian.

      • Shuard Manson

        And your syntax.

      • Shuard Manson

        spui the curlew, numenius,esp. numenius arcuata. Sa Wests.- O.N spoi, m., the curlew, scolopax arcuata and phaeopus (Fr) Jakob Jakobsen.

    • Graham Fleming

      The Whaup word is unique to Scotland, the closest other country is the Netherlands with Wulp.Courlieu in French is thought to be the origins of curlew.In the Borders on local farms we used to call them phaaps ( no to confaise them wi phaisants pitricks an peewits ). It’s good to hear the local Shetlaun names of Whaaps or maybe Shui according to Shuard.Is the council not missing a trick here by not insisting that Shetland names are used in bird reserves to give tourists and other soothmoothers a taste of island culture?.For the bairns and their artwork why not a bilingual project with da Shetlaun wirds first.

  14. ian tinkler

    Are we getting a little intoxicated by the sophistication of our own verbosity here, Shuard? Or still just making it up as we go along? Watch out for these big words in pseudo-Norwegian!!

    • Shuard Manson

      No. Look it up.

  15. Haydn Gear

    What has a single point urban interchange (spui) got to do with all this? Additionally, why has a square in the middle of Amsterdam been dragged in too? I’m at a loss and scratching my bonce.

  16. Shuard Manson

    Just to help you out Ian. Page 885 Volume 2 of An Etymological Dictionary of The Norn Language In Shetland. Pseudo Norwegian? Perhaps. Surely the basis of the Shetland dialect. I’m not making it up……

  17. Ian Tinkler

    Your quotation from Jakob Jakobsen was the Latin Taxonomy , Shaurd. As I said, beware of the big words!!


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