Enhancement of Wildlife Habitats in ACRES
Of all farmland birds, waders are among those experiencing the steepest declines. For some species this is masked by the influx of migratory birds during the winter. The breeding populations of Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing and Golden Plover are exhibiting worrying declines. The causes of these declines are mixed, but include habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, predation, and disturbance. The Co-operation stream of ACRES can help address some of these issues.
- Wader Scorecards are already in use on fields in known wader hotspots, this rewards and incentivises farmers for delivering wader friendly management.
- Wader requirements will be incorporated into the screening of proposed actions in these areas.
- Landscape Actions will include support for these species through the provision and enhancement of habitats. These will include the provision of wader scrapes and the management of scrub in wader nesting areas.
Wader scrapes are shallow pools, often no more than 20cm deep with shallow often muddy margins, in some cases they dry up in mid-summer (although not this year). They provide feeding opportunities for waders, particularly for their chicks. The Hen Harrier Project trialed these on farms over the past few years.
The pictures below show wader scrapes established on cutover bog in Co. Limerick. Within one year, these were being used by wintering birds and by year 2 Lapwing were observed on site during the breeding season. While proof of successful breeding is not available, their presence during the breeding season indicates possible breeding at this location. To confirm if breeding is taking place we will increase monitoring at sites like this from next year. Over the coming winter it is hoped that scrub can be removed from the periphery of the site to remove cover for predators and increase the attractiveness of the site to wader species.
With the help of farmers and advisors we hope to roll out more targeted interventions to support wildlife over the coming years.