Farmers watch the birdies

Actions taken by local farmers to manage their land with wildlife in mind are yielding great results for threatened breeding wader species like the snipe (Pic by Neal Warnock ).

Actions taken by local farmers to manage their land with wildlife in mind are yielding great results for threatened breeding wader species like the snipe (Pic by Neal Warnock ).

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Threatened species are thriving in the Antrim Hills thanks to the hard work of local landowners, new figures from RSPB NI have revealed.

Since early spring, two staff from the charity have been surveying more than 32km of habitat across Glenwherry - the most intensive and comprehensive monitoring ever carried out in the area.

This is the first year of a new RSPB project designed to boost curlew numbers in six selected areas across the UK, so to have 46 pairs recorded in the Antrim Hills is cause for celebration for all involved.

In Glenwherry, the work, which will involve habitat management, could also have benefits for other breeding wader species including snipe and lapwing. This year a staggering 121 pairs of snipe were recorded - the first time over 100 pairs have been seen.

The team also recorded many other threatened bird species including golden eagles, but perhaps the most unexpected find was the first sighting of the rare Carabus Clatratus beetle in Co. Antrim since 1896.

Neal Warnock, Conservation Advisor for the area, said: “The improving picture we are seeing in Glenwherry is down to the combined actions of over 70 farmers taking steps to manage their land with wildlife in mind and it’s great to see their efforts paying off.”