FARMERS AND landowners in the Scottish Borders have been asked to help to save the region’s wading bird population.

In recent years, numbers of wading birds such as curlew, lapwing, snipe, oystercatcher and redshank have declined significantly, due in part to a reduction in suitable feeding and nesting habitat.

Now, as part of a new project commissioned by Scottish Borders Council and funded by NTR plc as part of the Quixwood Moor windfarm development in east Berwickshire, farmers in the northern and eastern Borders are being asked to identify upland sites that might be suitable for wader-friendly habitat creation.

The RSPB is providing expert advice, and costs – including rush-cutting – can be met by the project. Other habitat creation projects elsewhere in the UK have led to significant local increases in wading bird numbers.

Speaking from the Tweed Forum, Derek Robeson said: “The past decade has seen a serious decline in the number of wading birds across the UK and a recent report has also identified a significant problem in Scotland. The full reasons aren’t clear, but are believed to include climate change, predation and the loss of appropriate habitat.

"While action is therefore required on a number of fronts, the provision of suitable habitat is one way that we can help to tackle this decline so we’re appealing to Borders farmers to work with us to create the conditions to help our wading birds survive and thrive.”

Scottish Borders Council ecology officer Andy Tharme said: “Once common birds such as curlew have undergone dramatic declines of 55% in Scotland in recent years. These birds are dependent on farmed land and recent data shows there are remaining hotspots for waders in the Borders.

"We aim to target these areas to help sustain and extend the remaining populations. This partnership project has been developed to help off-set impacts of a wind farm but we hope it will grow into a region-wide Borders Wader Initiative, working with farmers and communities across the region”

Farmers and landowners interested in getting involved in the Quixwood Wading Birds Project can contact Tweed Forum on 01896 849723.