WADING birds in the Avon Valley are making a comeback, according to scientists.

The EU LIFE+ Waders for Real project, run by Fordingbridge-based charity the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), has seen an increase in breeding lapwing and redshank following years of ailing numbers.

Lizzie Grayshon, LIFE Waders for Real project ecologist at GWCT, said seeing numbers of lapwing and redshank recovering was a “fantastic achievement” and “testament to the hard work” of the team and landowners, gamekeepers and farmers.

Recent results show breeding redshank have increased from 19 pairs in 2015 to 33 pairs in 2018 and the lapwing population has stabilised at 70 to 80 pairs.

Snipe, a species which historically bred in the river valley but dropped in numbers since the early 1990s, have been heard again in the water meadows.

Ecologists working on the project, which launched in 2014 to reverse a 70 per cent decline in lapwing and 83 per cent fall in breeding redshank, have been working closely with landowners, farmers and gamekeepers to achieve these results.

Lizzie added: “Excellent work to help these birds is done on nature reserves throughout the UK, but to combat national declines, conservation needs to work in the wider landscape alongside economic farming. This work demonstrates what can be achieved when conservation organisations work closely with land managers. The combined knowledge and resources gained can have huge conservation benefit, be that for waders as in our case or any other farmland wildlife in decline.”

Work has been done to improve habitats and mange wader nest and chick predators has been conducted.

So far, the project has created or restored 7.3km of wet ditches and added 33 shallow scrapes.

Scientists at GWCT hope to see further successes in 2019, the final year of their project.