Many of Northern Ireland's bird species are heading for the brink – but the RSPB is celebrating after a bumper summer delivered a hugely successful breeding season.
Numbers of breeding common terns rocketed by 45% on its Northern Ireland reserves in just one year, while the threatened lapwing is up 38%.
Curlew and redshank, which are included on the 'red list' of species of conservation concern, rose by 18% and 22% respectively, while black-headed gulls are up 29%. Breeding pairs of amber-listed snipe are up 36% since summer 2012.
However, RSPB NI director Dr JamesRobinson stressed these huge gains were seen on RSPB reserves and land managed for wildlife by 300 farmers who were taking part in the EU-funded Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) in Glenwherry, Lough Beg and Lough Foyle – outside these areas, the picture may well be less than rosy.
The breeding successes come against a grim backdrop of sharp wildlife declines over recent decades. This year's State of Nature report revealed that 60% of UK species are showing long-term declines and one in 10 is on the brink of local extinction.
This summer's bonanza shows what can be done when the right land management practices are put in place to halt the loss of habitat that is causing many of these declines, Dr Robinson said.