Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area Upland bird survey catalogue

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1 Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area Upland bird survey catalogue Funded by: Prepared by: Moors for the Future Partnership 2015

2 Prepared by Moors for the Future Partnership The Moorland Centre, Edale, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 7ZA, UK T: M: E: W: Suggested citation: Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area Upland bird survey catalogue (2015) Spencer, T., Proctor, S., Walker, J. 2

3 Contents Contents... 3 List of Figures... 4 List of Tables Introduction... 5 Context of the Dark Peak NIA Upland habitat management works Breeding bird survey catalogue Upland breeding bird population trends References

4 List of Figures Figure 1: Dark Peak NIA Upland bird survey catalogue ( )... 8 List of Tables Table 1: Population trends, Upland breeding birds in the Dark Peak NIA

5 1. Introduction Context of the Dark Peak NIA In 2010 the Government commissioned an independent review by Sir John Lawton titled Making Space for Nature. This report identified the need to establish a strong and connected natural environment by: better protection and management of designated wildlife sites; establishing landscape-scale conservation; and better protection for our non-designated wildlife sites. The report suggested that a landscape could be categorised into core areas (such as designated sites), restoration areas (such as degraded areas of habitat), corridors, buffer zones and sustainable use areas (such as farmland managed under Countryside Stewardship agreements). In June 2011 the Government published a response to this review in their Natural Environment White Paper (2011) setting out a new direction of travel for managing and valuing the natural environment in England. This supported a landscape-scale approach to conservation and greater recognition of the value of the ecosystem services provided by our natural environment which underpin our economy, society and individual health and wellbeing. Following greater recognition of the landscape-scale approach to conservation, the Government established 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) as a key mechanism for restoring the natural environment to benefit people and wildlife. These were established through a national competition and allocated 7.5 million funding. Each NIA focuses its policies, funding and delivery across their area to: improve the way land is used and managed; revitalise landscapes and reduce habitat fragmentation to re-establish wildlife and restore ecological networks; and improve the health of the environment to deliver ecosystem services such as food production, flood alleviation and access to nature The above text is from the Nature Improvement Areas : Making Space for Nature on a Landscape Scale publication. The Dark Peak NIA is the only upland NIA. It covers 25,000 ha of the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation, including the Peak District National Park. It is centred on the Dark Peak area of the Park, so called because of its underlying gritstone geology. Priority habitats inside the Dark Peak NIA include blanket bog, dry and wet heathland, woodland and upland hay meadows and pasture around which four of the five management objectives are focussed. The Dark Peak NIA includes 19 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Despite the 5

6 Area s conservation importance priority species continue to decline and degradation of habitats (including continuing erosion of moorland and peat bogs, poorly managed and declining woodland, and loss of wildflower meadows) has reduced the wildlife and other public benefits this landscape should deliver. At the same time, although a predominantly rural area, the National Park is surrounded by urban conurbations and receives over 22 million day visits annually. Improving access in order to inspire and engage the public in landscape scale conservation is the fifth management objective. The Dark Peak NIA combines NGOs (RSPB (lead), National Trust and Sheffield Wildlife Trust), local government organisations (Sheffield City Council, Natural England and Peak District National Park Authority), private companies (United Utilities), access groups (British Mountaineering Council) and existing partnerships (Eastern Moors and Moors for the Future). It has provided a catalyst, sparking the sharing of knowledge, expertise, practical support, and pooling of resources. Our monitoring programme has provided a valuable baseline to evidence the benefits that our work will provide for biodiversity and human well-being in the future. 2. Upland habitat management works As the only upland Nature Improvement Area the Dark Peak programme of conservation was focussed around recreating, improving or maintaining upland priority habitats including: Restoring the hydrological integrity of 5,800 ha of blanket bog in Longdendale and on the Howden & Derwent Moors, moving SSSI condition status from Favourable Recovering to Favourable PLUS by 2020 or beyond. Improving the status of priority species through restoration and creation of SAC/SSSI upland heaths, across 2,087 hectares, extending over 12 individual moors by Improving the connectivity of priority habitats through restoration and creation of 210 hectares of sessile oak woodlands and scrub, involving 16 new or existing woodlands, by Reconnecting fragmented priority habitats through the restoration of 62 hectares of upland hay meadows and species rich pastures, over 11 individual sites, by Outputs from all of these objectives were to increase biodiversity, including: Increase breeding wader populations on the blanket bog plateau s and moorland fringe habitats including; golden plover, dunlin, curlew and snipe through an enhanced mosaic of feeding and nesting sites. Increased populations of moorland edge birds such as stonechat and whinchat and new feeding sites for ring ouzel. Increase in both numbers and diversity of woodland edge birds such as cuckoo and tree pipit. Increase in population of certain woodland birds, such as song thrush, bullfinch and woodcock (see Dark Peak NIA Woodland Management: Woodland bird survey report 2015) 6

7 As individual partners within the Dark Peak NIA have survey data pre-dating the Nature Improvement Area as well as surveys either currently underway or planned, in absence of the resources to undertake a full breeding bird survey of the South Pennine Moors Phase II Special Protection Area (the last of which was in 2004, see Carr & Middleton (2004)) the Dark Peak NIA monitoring programme aimed to compile a catalogue of where upland breeding bird surveys have been undertaken in the area and to identify where data exists from which population trends can be highlighted. 3. Breeding bird survey catalogue The Dark Peak NIA breeding bird survey catalogue is a catalogue of surveys of upland breeding birds conducted within the Dark Peak Nature Improvement Area in the years Within the catalogue, the following details are listed for each survey: - Year of survey - Location (all Ordnance Survey (OS) 1km grid squares covered by the survey) - Title of the report in which results of the survey were presented - Author of the report (depending on the survey this includes individuals and/or organisations) The catalogue exists in two formats: - A map image (figure 1) - GIS data files The map image (figure 1) displays the year of the most recent survey in each 1km OS grid square within the Dark Peak NIA boundary. This is a quick and easy tool which may be used to identify areas where recent data exists (where and when bird surveys were undertaken and by who) as well as identifying gaps where further monitoring might be a priority. The GIS map, created in MapInfo, allows the user to click on any 1km OS grid square within the Dark peak NIA boundary and view the surveying history for the square. All surveys conducted in that square in the years are listed, with the year, report title and report author associated with each survey. This tool may be used to identify reports and data available from which population trends of upland breeding birds may be analysed. The catalogue contains details on 18 surveys conducted in the years , covering a total of 714 1km OS grid squares. The Dark Peak NIA partners who have contributed to these surveys are: Moors for the Future, the National Trust, the Peak District National Park Authority, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and United Utilities Ltd. 7

8 Figure 1: Dark Peak NIA Upland bird survey catalogue ( ) 8

9 4. Upland breeding bird population trends Using data from the surveys included in the Dark Peak NIA Breeding Bird Survey Catalogue, population trends for some upland breeding birds may be observed in the years These trends are presented in table 1. Repeat surveys should be separated by a minimum of 3 years in order to demonstrate changes in populations of species in this context (Natural England, 2014). Therefore, only surveys meeting this requirement are included. The data used are from the following reports: - RSPB Bird Monitoring for the Sustainable Catchment Management Project (SCaMP): Final Report on the three years of data collection (2005, 2007 & 2009) United Utilities Ltd. and RSPB - Breeding Bird Survey of the Peak District Moorlands (2005) Moors for the Future - Eastern Moors Ecological Monitoring Report 2013 National Trust and RSPB - Report on a Survey of Breeding Waders at Selected Dark Peak Sites with Analysis of Results and Recommendations for Future Conservation Peak District National Park Authority - Report on a Survey of Breeding Waders at Eight Selected Dark Peak Sites (2014) and Recommendations for Future Conservation - Peak District National Park Authority - Summary of Moorland Breeding Bird Monitoring at Dove Stone (2014) - RSPB It should be noted that these reports cover different time periods, different locations and different survey area extents, please see individual reports for details. 9

10 Table 1: Population trends, Upland breeding birds in the Dark Peak NIA Organisation Reference SCaMP Project (UU Ltd. & RSPB) Stephen & Wilson (2009) Moors for the Future Carr & Middleton (2005) Eastern Moors (National Trust & RSPB) NT & RSPB (2013) PDNPA Pearce (2013) PDNPA Pearce (2014) Dove Stone (RSPB) RSPB (2014) Date of survey (all sites) (Low Moor only) Species Buzzard Increase Increase Increase Curlew Increase Increase Increase Decline Decline Dipper Increase Dunlin Decline Golden Plover Increase Decline Decline Kestrel Increase Increase Increase Lapwing No Change Increase Decline Increase Increase Meadow Pipit Decline Decline Red Grouse Decline Reed Bunting Increase Decline Ring Ouzel Decline Increase Increase Short-eared Owl Increase Decline Skylark Increase Decline Increase Snipe Increase Decline Increase Increase 10

11 5. References Carr, G., Middleton, P. (2004) Breeding bird survey of the Peak District Moorlands. Moors for the Future Partnership. National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2013) Eastern Moors Ecological Monitoring Report Pearce, D.M. (2013) Report on a Survey of Breeding Waders at Selected Dark Peak Sites (April - June 2013) with Analysis of Survey Results and Recommendations for Future Conservation. Pearce, D.M. (2014) Report on a Survey of Breeding Waders at Eight Selected Dark Peak Sites (April - June 2014) and Recommendations for Future Conservation Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2014) Summary of Moorland Breeding Bird Monitoring at Dove Stone Stephen, L., & Wilson, P. (2009) RSPB Bird Monitoring for the SCaMP Project: Final Report on the three years of data collection (2005, 2007 & 2009). 11

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