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Poul Christensen, Chairman of Natural England, reflecting on a visit to a grouse moor in North Yorkshire, congratulated the MA and its members: " Moorland owners care for some of England’s most iconic landscapes. We have 75 per cent of the world’s remaining heather moorland here in the UK and careful conservation allows millions of visitors to enjoy exceptional wild places, supporting local jobs and businesses.
They are also complex ecosystems that require careful management for sustainable shooting businesses as well a wealth of wildlife. The role of moors in both the water and carbon cycles is vital too."

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Important Bird Species on Heather Moorland

Merlin chick

 Click for larger photo

There are 46 species of birds that occur regularly on heather moorland for feeding and/or breeding in England and Wales. The following tables show the bird species found on moorland and also to what degree they rely on the heather moorland habitat. The coloured dots against each species represent the conservation value that has been assigned for that species and the criteria for each. An explanation of the criteria can be found by simply clicking on the coloured dots.

Summary

  • There are a total of 280 regularly occurring birds in the UK, Channel Island and the Isle of Man. At least 46 (16%), of these bird species occur regularly on heather moorland to feed and/or breed.
  • Eleven of these species appear on the UK's Red List of bird species of greatest conservation concern. (There are a total of 36 species on this list).
  • A further 21 species which occur regularly on heather moorland appear on the UK's Amber List of bird species of conservation concern. (There are a total of 110 species on this list).
  • Common Curlew

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  • The RSPB has selected 15 bird species to provide focus for its work, which are integral to the RSPB corporate strategy. The Hen Harrier, Lapwing, Skylark and Black Grouse are all on this list.
  • In addition, 11 of these birds are also important at a European level and are listed under Annex 1 of the European Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. (EC Directive 79/409/EEC).

Table 1 - Birds Virtually Confined to Heather Moorland

(Click on the coloured dots for explanation of conservation code)

   Annex 1REDAMBER
  Red Grouse         

Table 2 - Birds that Breed mainly on Heather Moorland

   Annex 1REDAMBER
  Golden Plover   
  Merlin   
  Hen Harrier   
Golden Plover

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Table 3 - Moorland Provides Major Breeding Habitat

   Annex 1REDAMBER
  Greenshank      
  Curlew      
  Short-eared Owl   
  Meadow Pipit         
  Whinchat         
  Dunlin      
  Stonechat      
  Cuckoo         
  Teal      
  Black Grouse   
  Common Gull      
  Skylark      
  Ring Ouzel      
  Grey Partridge      
  Fieldfare      
  Wigeon      
  Nightjar   
  Whimbrel      
Hen harrier chick

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Table 4 - Moorland Provides Locally Important Breeding Habitat

   Annex 1REDAMBER
  Twite      
  Wren         
  Wheatear         
  Lapwing     
  Common Snipe      
  Redshank      
  Black Headed Gull         
  Oystercatcher      
  Whitethroat         
  Pochard      
  Pheasant         
  Mallard         
  Willow Warbler         

Table 5 - Moorland Provides Important Feeding Habitat

   Annex 1REDAMBER
  Golden Eagle   
  Peregrine   
  Raven         
  Buzzard         
  Kestrel      
  Red Kite   
  Common/hooded Crow         
  Dotterel   
  Reed Bunting      
  Osprey   
  Goshawk         

  Annex 1: Species listed on Annex 1 of EC Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds, requiring the UK Government to take special measures, including the designation of Special Protection Areas, to ensure the survival and reproduction of these species throughout their area of distribution.
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   Red & Amber The UK's leading non-governmental bird conservation organisations, (RSPB, BirdLife International, The Game Conservancy Trust, British Trust for Ornithology, The Hawk and Owl Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and The National Trust), have agreed the priorities for bird conservation after reviewing the status of all bird species in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man - 1996. The bird species are divided into three sections or lists.
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  Red All species whose breeding population declined or range contracted by 50% or more, (rapid), over the preceding 25 years (i.e. 1980-1995), and those of global conservation concern. Also birds with a high historical decline from 1800-1995.
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  Amber All species whose breeding population declined or range contracted by 25 -49%, (moderate), over the preceding 25 years. Or birds with 0.2 - 300 annually breeding pairs taking an average over the previous five years. Or birds for which 50% their breeding or non-breeding population is found at 10 or fewer sites. Or breeding species of which 20% or more of the European population breeds in the UK. Or birds with an unfavourable conservation status in Europe. These birds may progress to rapid decline unless action is taken.
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  Green All other regularly occurring species in UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man are on the Green list. 134 out of a total bird assemblage of 280 species
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© Moorland Association 2006
Any photographs may only be reproduced for editorial use with permission.
Please contact Amanda Anderson Tel 0845 4589786 for any press or photographic inquiries.
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