Breeding waders and their conservation on the wetlands of Tiree and Coll, Inner Hebrides

K B Shepherd, David Stroud


Breeding wader populations on a range of machair and other wetland biotopes on the Hebridean islands of Tiree and Coll were surveyed in 1987 and 1988. Six species breed, five of them (Lapwing, Redshank Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Snipe) in nationally important numbers. Habitat selection was investigated on nine sample survey sites, and extrapolated results indicate that a total of 6020 pairs of waders bred on Tiree, and 1330 on Coll. Several wetland and machair habitats held large numbers of breeding birds of particular importance were small areas of marsh and fen, wet machair, Phragmites beds, coarse wet pasture and old decaying runways set in areas of dry machair. The extent of European machair has been surveyed for breeding waders in the last five years. Tiree and Coll, together with the southern isles of the Outer Hebrides, hold internationally important populations, and are important in maintaining the range of several species within the British Isles (as required by international legislation). Agricultural operations, specifically drainage and intensification of grassland management, could be damaging to currently prime wader habitats. As well as protection of key areas, long-term conservation of these populations would be achieved by support for traditional forms of crofting which, over past centuries, has created the agricultural landscape on these islands.

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