Distribution Britain 1,025 (+12.2%) Ireland 244 (-21.5%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 8,500 Ireland 1,250
European status: 95,000 (10% in Britain and Ireland =4)
British population trend: further slow expansion likely
How likely are you to record it? 45 squares (1.0%) Ranked 118=
Until quite recently this species was considered to be a bird of coastal sand and shingle. However it has always nested on shingle spits and stony shores of rivers and lochs in Scotland, Northumberland and inland at the major Irish loughs. A thriving population breeding in the rabbit warrens of the Breckland of Norfolk and Suffolk was severely depleted by 1900. In many areas where tourists spent their holidays the disturbance banished the birds from their favourite sites and the overall population probably continued to fall to a minimum about 30 years ago. Then conservation considerations started to help the coastal birds and increasing numbers started to breed inland. These were in the Brecklands, along the Thames and Trent and in many other areas including extensive areas in Lowland Scotland. However inland breeding has still not come to Wales and may be declining in Ireland but some are now breeding amid the desolation of stripped peat! There are still some coastal areas of southern Ireland, Wales and the South-west peninsula from which they are absent. More inland breeding is very likely.
Cooney, T. 1998 Irish Birds: 6, 283-284.
The following Bird On! sketch is available:
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead