The rapid expansion of the UK wind energy industry has led to a large number of proposed windfarm developments in the uplands where there is concern about the possible impacts on breeding waders. Many species of wader have shown declines in recent years due to habitat loss and modification. It is possible that windfarms will add to these declines by disturbing birds from breeding and feeding habitat.
In order to adequately assess the impacts of wind energy further information is required about the responses of upland waders to wind turbines. Curlew was considered to be a suitable species for study because they are sufficiently numerous to provide adequate sample sizes. Since 2003, Natural Research has funded a project that investigates the extent to which windfarms (6 sites) affect the breeding density and productivity of local curlew populations, and whether these effects change as curlews habituate to the presence of the wind turbines. Specifically, the project aims to test the hypotheses:
Curlew avoid nesting close to operational wind turbines.
Breeding success is lower on sites with operational wind turbines than on comparable sites without turbines.
Avoidance of turbines and declines in breeding success are more marked in the period immediately after construction than in subsequent years.
Analyses have been completed and a report has been produced. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: D. Jackson