WITH THE bird breeding season at an end, specialist equipment is now on offer to farmers and land managers around Tomintoul and Glenlivet to improve habitats for wading birds such as lapwing, curlew and redshank.

A rush topper and weed wiper are available for loan to farmers to manage rushes on their land, creating better conditions for feeding and nesting birds as well as improving grazing for their livestock.

Led by RSPB Scotland, the Peesie Project – 'peesie' is the local name for lapwings – is working with land managers throughout the area to protect and create the best possible habitat for lowland farmland waders, where they have one of the highest densities in the north east of Scotland.

The equipment was purchased with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund provided through the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership.

Andy Duffus, who farms at Auchriachan, Tomintoul, used the equipment last year to cut an area of rank rushes in front of the Tomintoul Bird Hide. He said: “Since cutting back the rushes last autumn, the fields have attracted more lapwings this year and we have seen a lot more chicks and birds feeding around the muddy scrapes. It’s also improved the quality of grazing for the cattle."

RSPB’s conservation adviser Catherine Owen-Pam added: “It is rewarding to see the difference this management has made, with both lapwing and oystercatcher breeding and producing young in the area in front of the hide.”

TGLP’s land management officer Polly Freeman said: “This equipment is a great resource for farmers in Tomintoul and Glenlivet, benefitting farmland waders such as lapwing, known locally as Peesies, and curlews, both species that are suffering huge declines across the UK.

“The equipment is available for loan to farmers annually between August 1 and March 1, which is the recommended time to use the equipment outwith the nesting and breeding season. There is a small administrative fee of £70 which includes delivery and collection.”

For more information on borrowing the machinery, contact Alistair Young Engineering Tel: 01309 611335 or Polly Freeman, TGLP Land Management Officer, Tel 01807 580350, Email Polly@tomintoulandglenlivet.com.