Suffolk breeding Ringed and Little Ringed Plover Survey 2017 – Call for volunteers

SOG are leading a project this spring to survey two species that we may be in real danger of losing from Suffolk.  The project aims to revisit all core tetrads surveyed in 2007 as part of the national survey organised by the BTO.

The 2007 survey recorded a total 43 pairs of ringed plover at 23 sites in Suffolk, a 77% decline on the last survey in 1984.

Evidence suggests that the population has continued to decline with only 32 pairs recorded at key sites in 2016.  Even more worryingly this trend must be viewed in combination with poor productivity. If current trends continue there is a very real risk that the ringed plover may be lost to Suffolk as a breeding species.

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover: photo copyright Bill Baston

The situation is rather less clear for little ringed plover which first nested in Suffolk in 1948. The population subsequently peaked at around 33 pairs in 1990, most at inland gravel pits. The national survey in 2007 found 12-13 pairs at seven sites but the most recent Suffolk Bird Report (2015) only lists three pairs at two sites.  It is not known if the little ringed plover is currently under-recorded or whether or not there has been a real decline in the breeding population.

We desperately need to undertake a full survey to assess the current population of both ringed and little ringed plover in Suffolk. We will use this information to work with the Suffolk Little Tern Group and landowners to identify sites where we can focus actions to aid recovery.  We need volunteers to help survey all suitable nesting sites in 2017. This will require a minimum of two visits during the breeding season (15th April-14th May, and 15th May-30th June).

Further details on survey methodology and a list of the tetrads we are aiming cover will be available soon.

If you have time to help this breeding season please contact Chris Keeling or Robin Harvey.

Chris Keeling   email Chris.keeling@naturalengland.org.uk

Robin Harvey   email robin.harvey@rspb.org.uk  or phone 01728 648072.