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Breeding birds surveys – Peak District moorlands

Thursday 31 October 2019

Curlew on its nest on the groundResponding to the 'Breeding Birds Surveys of the Peak District Moors 1990-2018' report from the Moors for the Future Partnership, Peak District National Park chief executive Sarah Fowler said: “The results from this updated study of moorland birds within the Peak District and South Pennines is a story to be celebrated, and confirms a quiet revolution for our moorlands and a number of threatened species who have seen increases in abundance in excess of 70%.

“Indeed, for some such as the curlew, golden plover and dunlin, parts of the Peak District are now bucking national trends with breeding numbers reaching well into the hundreds and safeguarding, in several cases, up to 2% of the UK population. With a quarter of the world’s curlews calling the UK home, this is no small feat.

“Alongside these successes, the study has also allowed us to take the pulse of our moorlands – and see where management and conservation practices are making a difference. The detail contained within the surveys means we can follow what the evidence is telling us, alongside our own experiences in the field.

“As well as those species for which the area has been designated – including golden plover, short-eared owl and merlin, more than 80 additional species have been recorded, demonstrating the breadth of birds that may be encountered in our uplands.

“What makes many of these results all the more noteworthy is the multiple land uses and challenges here in the Peak District; from the impacts of industrial pollution and associated habitat degradation, to our complex mosaic of contemporary land use including farming and recreation.

“Grouse moor management remains a piece of this habitat jigsaw in the National Park, and some of the evidence we see for positive associations of management were between a range of wader species and moorlands managed for grouse. In particular, gamekeeper management has contributed to long-term positive trends of golden plover and curlew in the Peak District.

“This particular study has not focused on the breeding of birds of prey, which should be part of the picture in our uplands but in some cases remain absent or not in the numbers we want to see. As we await the results of the 2019 season for our raptors, I hope the positive associations we have seen in our wading birds can be a springboard for a similar resurgence and positive working relationship for our birds of prey. Only when we have a full and healthy assemblage of biodiversity across our moorlands can we be satisfied that we are caring for these iconic landscapes at their fullest.

“I want to extend my personal thanks to all those who have been responsible for this significant and comprehensive study, including the many landowners who have allowed access to survey their land – and it is heartening to see this coverage increase on the previous study period of 2004/05.”

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