A CONSERVATION project to stop the decline of endangered birds in the Avon Valley is seeing positive results.

Fordingbridge-based charity the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has been working closely with different groups to lead the Waders for Real project.

Over the past 25 years, GWCT has documented a 70 per cent decline in numbers of breeding lapwings and an 83 per cent fall in breeding redshank (wader birds) in the Avon Valley.

Launched in 2014, The EU LIFE+ Waders for Real project aims to halt and reverse these declines.

So far, the project has seen increases in these endangered birds in the Avon Valley, with lapwing pairs increasing from 62 in 2015 to 81 in 2016 and a jump in redshank pairs from 19 in 2015 to 28 in 2016.

The scientists at GWCT say they are starting to better understand which techniques are most effective in increasing breeding success of the waders and hope to record further successes with bird numbers, but also want to look at the possible benefits to the wider ecosystem.

Lizzie Grayshon, the project officer and a wetlands research assistant at GWCT, said: “The Waders for Real project has given us the opportunity to work closely with a whole network of farmers, land owners and keepers to target lapwing conservation.

“Being able to see some positive results after the first two years is really encouraging and really good to feedback to everyone putting in the hard work to make it happen.”

The project has involved establishing an environment to aid wader recovery, including plenty of habitat work, which involved manipulating the landscape by removing old fence lines and willow scrub as well as re-profiling 2.9 km of ditches, digging 1.6 km of new ditches and creating 23 scrapes to create more chick foraging habitat.

The outcomes of these works has also been monitored with radio-tracking lapwing chicks to better understand the habitat structures that ensure increased chick survival.

To find out more information about the project, visit gwct.org.uk/research/species/birds/lapwing-and-other-waders/waders-for-real/