Wading Bird Research

Why research wading birds?

The call of the curlew is one of the iconic sounds of the Yorkshire Dales, yet the curlew, like several other waders that breed in the Dales, is in decline. Better data were needed to inform agri-environment schemes aimed at improving the habitat they need for nesting and rearing young.

Aims of the research

To manage the land for the benefit of waders we need to know what conditions suit them best. One way to find out is to identify key features of those habitats that the birds themselves choose to breed in.  We can then promote management practices that encourage these features.

Achievements of the research

We built statistical models that identified environmental features favoured by curlews, lapwings, redshank and snipe. The models were used to build GIS-based maps of bird distribution across the park to facilitate landscape scale management by identifying hotspots for improvement and expansion.

The survey data gathered for this project will be also be used for long-term wader monitoring, and new bird distribution and environmental data will enable us to refine the maps.

Who is involved in the wading birds research?

The work was undertaken by Dr Ute Bradter as part of her PhD at the University of Leeds and funded by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the University of Leeds with the support and supervision of Profs. Tim Benton, Bill Kunin and John Altringham at Leeds and Dr Tim Thom, Yorkshire Peat Partnership (then of the YDNPA). Ian Court of the YDNPA is working with the Leeds team to take the project on to the next stage.

The unfolding of Grass Wood throughout the year is a story of rich fulfilment. From 'Wharfedale' by Ella Pontefract & Marie Hartley

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