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Declining bird species make comeback thanks to gamekeepers

PUBLISHED: 13:12 26 November 2015 | UPDATED: 13:12 26 November 2015

gift of grouse

gift of grouse

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The number of bird species either breeding or feeding on land managed by gamekeepers in Scotland has been revealed as 81, in a reception at the Scottish Parliament that was held to celebrate diversity through grouse moor management.

The number of bird species either breeding or feeding on land managed by gamekeepers in Scotland has been revealed as 81, in a reception at the Scottish Parliament that was held to celebrate diversity through grouse moor management.

In the report, by the Scottish Moorland Group, findings showed that birds which have suffered serious declines in numbers in various other parts of the country have rallied on moors. Wildlife audits carried out on three shooting estates found that golden plover, black grouse, ring ouzel, golden and white tailed eagles, peregrines and hen harriers are among leading species identified in the report, with the Scottish cuckoo even making a significant comeback on one estate.

The report is part of the “Gift of Grouse” campaign to bring to attention the wide range of benefits grouse shooting and moorland management delivers, and is supported by the Angus Glens Moorland Group, and the Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group.

Graeme Dey MSP, who hosted the reception during which the findings were announced, said: “It is important, in the context of future land use, biodiversity and the Land Reform Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, that we have a balanced, evidence based debate on the best way forward and I welcome this report for the contribution it makes to that process.”

Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, Tom Baynes, added: “To have such an array of species is tremendous news and demonstrates clearly that high quality habitat management can deliver multiple conservation benefits. The diversity of species that can thrive on grouse moors is probably one of the least heralded gifts of grouse moor management. The findings of these studies, we believe, are a snapshot of what is happening on managed moorland throughout Scotland.”

A separate survey conducted by German scientists on a Scottish estate, Glenogil, found 63 different bird species. Leader of the study, Dr Daniel Hoffman commented: “The population of black grouse is decreasing in the UK. We found at Glenogil 84 mating cocks and 15 more nearby. This area is a best practice area for sustainable conservation of black grouse.

“The high species diversity in birds is associated with the diversified use of landscape on the estate. It can be demonstrated that [a] combination of habitat and predator management is the most effective conservation strategy.”

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