Golden Plover (European Golden Plover)
Distribution Britain 784 (-7.7%) Ireland 57 (-13.6%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 22,600 Ireland 400
European status: 550,000 (4% in Britain and Ireland =5)
British population trend: serious declines set to continue
How likely are you to record it? 188 squares (4.2%) Ranked 90 [77=]
In the 19th century these moorland breeding birds bred on uplands through most of Scotland, Northern England, Wales (especially the North), Ireland and Exmoor. The birds then retreated from the edges and populations fluctuated in the core areas. Breeding on Dartmoor was a gain and eventually the only area in the south-west with breeding birds. The Irish birds did badly and were restricted to Connemara and Donegal by 1960: the Atlas results show further declines. The Welsh and Dartmoor populations are seriously depleted. Worries about increased disturbance from hill walkers do not seem to be borne out everywhere. Overgrazing and the deterioration of the moorland habitats could be a cause but the birds also winter on arable farmland. This means that the intensification of agriculture, in the wintering areas, may be a very real problem. Certainly a study in the Flow country, where there is hardly any disturbance and no sign of degradation of the breeding habitat, shows serious recent declines. These may be caused by deteriorating conditions in lowland areas where they winter. There is grave concern about these birds throughout Europe.
Brown, A.F. 1993 Bird Study: 40, 196-202.
Hancock, M. & Avery, M. 1998 Scottish Birds: 19, 195-205.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead