A 25-year study of breeding Greenshanks

Published on 13 March 2014 in Uncategorized

ABSTRACT Breeding Greenshanks Tringa nebularia have their British stronghold in Sutherland and Caithness, which hold 44% of the national population. In a 1,200-ha study area in north Sutherland, a 25-year study found a high density of breeding Greenshanks, with up to ten occupied territories each year. Based on 189 territory-years, territory occupancy averaged 52%, with strong variation between years (20­91%) and territories (24­78%). For 51 nests, the mean hatch rate was 59%. Predation accounted for 62% of known nest failures.Territory occupancy and breeding success were not linked to distance from a new, predominantly native, woodland scheme. However, the woodland is still young, and the work should be repeated at a later date.The lochs, pools and blanket bogs of Sutherland and Caithness ­ the `Flow Country’ ­ are renowned for their breeding birds (Stroud et al. 1987). One of the most characteristic of these is the Greenshank Tringa nebularia, whose farcarrying calls can be heard on almost any springvisit to the area. Many ornithologists first became familiar with the Sutherland haunts of the Greenshank through the evocative books of Desmond and Maimie Nethersole-Thompson (1979, 1986), who based their pioneering longterm Greenshank study on the area. The ornithological importance of Sutherlandand Caithness led to the designation of 146,000 ha of the two counties as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive, in 1999. This is one of the largest such areas, comprising 10% of SPA-designated land in the UK (Stroud et al. 2001). Although the Greenshank is included among

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