A new Irish Wildlife Manual (number 120) has been released and provides the results of a survey for breeding Golden Plover in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex SPA. The Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Protection Area (SPA) in County Mayo was identified and designated as an important breeding area for Golden Plover.
The Irish breeding population of Golden Plover, a species listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive, was estimated at 134 to 156 pairs following surveys between 2002 and 2004. The surveys undertaken in 2019 found five Golden Plover breeding territories within the 27 one-kilometre grid squares surveyed. These findings suggest that the total population of breeding Golden Plover within the repeated surveyed sites has declined by 37.5%. A number of factors have been attributed to the decline, including increased scrub/heather cover, associated with changes in grazing. The report therefore provides recommendations for further research to attain a better understanding of the grazing levels within the SPA and their impacts on the vegetation composition and structure.