North York Moors proves healthy for wading birds

A moorland visitor appears to be in rude health, after a survey suggests the number of golden plover across the uplands of the North York Moors is at an 18-year high.

Numbers of golden plovers on the moorlands of the North York Moors National Park are thought to be at an 18-year high. Pic: Robert Fuller

Often frequenting the moorlands over the summer before seeking lower ground in winter, the golden plover is a success story for the Moors that appears to be repeated among other wading birds.

The National Park Authority’s survey, carried out in partnership with Natural England, found there had been no decline in breeding lapwing and populations of curlew were holding steady, bucking a national declining trend. Results of the survey, just like previous ones conducted in 1996, 2000 and 2008, will be used to inform future decisions around moorland management.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

David Renwick, director of conservation at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “The 2008 survey suggested a decline in lapwing breeding on the moors so it is very encouraging that this decline would seem to have halted. That golden plover has been recorded in increased numbers is also to be celebrated as the North York Moors is recognised as having an internationally significant population of these birds.

“All such surveys can only provide a series of snapshots and lots of factors, especially the weather, can affect breeding success. However, after having repeated the survey three times, we feel we can be confident that the populations of these birds on the North York Moors remain healthy. Thanks must go to landowners and gamekeepers who have not only supported our survey work but are keen to create favourable habitats and conditions for these birds.”

David Shaw, Natural England’s area manager for Yorkshire, added: “The results of this survey are very welcome and it’s encouraging to know that wading bird populations are holding their own on the North York Moors, especially as numbers are declining nationally. The positive results from this survey are testament to strong partnership work by everyone involved in managing this wonderful Yorkshire landscape.”