Swinton and Coverhead estates win prestigious awards

Three Moorland Association estates - Swinton, Coverhead and Egton - have won prestigious Life on Land awards for their conservation work benefiting rare birds.

By Janet Harrison
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 12:39 pm
Hen Harrier at Swinton Estate.
Hen Harrier at Swinton Estate.

The awards from RedList Revival are presented to landholdings exceeding the top one per cent in the UK for abundance of a key species.

Swinton, near Ripon, achieved this for Hen Harriers, Coverhead, near Pateley Bridge, for Black Grouse, and Egton for Lapwings.

Mark Cunliffe-Lister of Swinton Estate, Chair of the Moorland Association, said: “We are delighted to see recognition of the work undertaken by estates to help rare birds to survive and thrive.

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“These success stories are underpinned by many years of work and investment by the estates themselves and fostering of collaborative partnerships with other conservation organisations.

“Practical conservation action in the uplands is a crucial element in boosting England’s biodiversity.”

Swinton Estate also ranks in the top ten per cent nationally for Curlew abundance, while Coverhead Estate is also in the top one per cent for Curlew and Lapwing.

These are all red-listed species, meaning birds of conservation concern, either because their overall population, number of breeding pairs, or territorial range is significantly decreasing.

For non-priority species, Coverhead Estate also has top one per cent abundance of Dipper, Golden Plover, Red Grouse and Snipe.

The Awards are presented by Redlist Revival, a charity established nine years ago to identify and promote successful management of priority species and the factors affecting success, with an initial focus on red-listed birds.

By recording data in a consistent format - using standardised criteria endorsed by Natural England, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the British Trust for Ornithology - landholders are able to calibrate the performance of habitats and species as part of the UK’s local, national and international commitments.

Coverhead Estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has 3,000 acres of open moorland and 2,000 of diverse moorland edge habitat, farmed and managed in hand.

The Black Grouse population at Coverhead has been re-established through a pioneering relocation programme, taking male Black Grouse from their core range to re-establish in other areas with suitable habitat.

The project was led by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust under license from Natural England. All trans-located birds were radio tracked as a part of a five-year study.

James Mawle of Coverhead Estate says: “In 1900 there were Black Grouse in every county in England, bar Middlesex.

“Their decline has been caused primarily by habitat loss and predation of their eggs and chicks.

“The recovery programme has proved an incredibly useful initiative to help expand their territorial range and it has been a notable success.

“Despite the past two years proving to be quite poor breeding seasons for Black Grouse in all parts of the UK, hens at Coverhead have exceeded the population replacement rate of 1.5 chicks per hen and the estate has an expanding breeding population.”

Images – free to use; please credit Steve Williams for the Black Grouse images as noted.

See the live Hen Harrier nestcam at Swinton Estate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PyBOX6_1Zs&list=PL-6d-Q5ZP9Cd6MTbm8jubic0p91sW7Dtg&index=1