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.