Numbers of wintering waders are decreasing in Scotland, with climate change thought to be a key factor.

According to new figures published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), winter wader populations are at an all-time low, with numbers down 21 per cent in the 40 years from 1975/1976 to 2015/2016. 

Along with climate change, food availability is thought to be another important factor behind the negative trend. Common RedshankEuropean Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing are all species which were found to be wintering in Scotland in reduced numbers by the Abundance of Wintering Waterbirds survey, along with Ruddy Turnstone and Purple Sandpiper. On the other hand, wildfowl numbers have increased by 14 per cent across 16 species, with a 287 per cent increase noted in Barnacle Goose.

Simon Foster, SNH's Trends & Indicator Analyst, said: "Scotland is on the migration route known as the East Atlantic Flyway and many wildfowl and wader species breed in the Arctic and fly here to winter at one of 50 Scottish sites of international importance. More research is needed to better understand the declines of the various species, and to develop ways to help improve numbers of waders.

SNH is initiating a variety of projects to try and help struggling waders. Working for Waders will support breeding birds throughout Scotland, with several measures including habitat management.

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