A new study on birds in Dartmoor has revealed that the number of dunlin have increased in response to efforts to restore the moor’s mires.
Dunlins are small wading birds that breed across northern Europe, Russia, and North America, choosing Dartmoor as their most southerly breeding location. Their population in the UK is currently recorded at 9,600 pairs.
As they rely exclusively on good quality blanket bog to breed, Dartmoor provides an important location for them in the UK. The Dartmoor Mires Project is a pilot scheme that has been set up to assess the feasibility and impact of restoring the degraded blanket bog.
The RSPB was contracted by the Dartmoor Mires Project to conduct a bird survey of blanket bogs on the north moor in 2014, following a similar survey undertaken in 2010, and two smaller ones in 2007 and 2013.
The results of the survey were positive, and revealed a 37 per cent increase in dunlin between 2010 and 2014, with 22 territorial pairs compared with 16 in 2010.
Commenting on the finding, Helen Booker, Conservation Officer for the RSPB in the South West said: “It would genuinely seem that the restoration works have had an important positive effect on the dunlin breeding population. This is great news, and it’s to be hoped that continuing efforts to restore the mires will continue to pay off and secure the future of this wonderful bird here at its most southerly site in the world.