Lithuanian waterbirds given a helping hand thanks to €17,000 WHCT grant

The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) has pledged €17,000 in funding for the sustainable management of key habitats for breeding and migratory populations of waterbirds in Lithuania.

The grant will enable country-wide bird surveys and the preparation of special management plans for a network of manmade wetland habitats in the form of large fishpond complexes in the country.

This funding is stage two of a project aimed at protecting the habitat and breeding grounds of the common pochard in Lithuania, following an €18,000 WHCT grant in 2018. Work will begin in the new year.

Dr Saulius Svazas, project co-ordinator, said: “We are grateful to the WHCT for this grant which will allow us to understand in greater detail the behaviour of birds across this network of wetland habitats.

“Large fishponds managed for aquaculture are ecologically important areas for birds and are characteristic of Eastern and Central Europe. Some of the larger fishpond complexes in Lithuania hold internationally important populations of rare bird species and during this project, habitats for waterfowl will be restored at selected key sites.

“We hope that sustainable management practices used in Lithuania can eventually also be successfully applied in similar habitats in other countries across the region.”

Paul Williamson, secretary to the Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust, said: “The WHCT is delighted to support Dr Svazas and his team with another pioneering project to understand in greater detail the breeding and staging populations of waterbirds across this network of wetland habitats in Lithuania.

“Of particular importance to the WHCT are aspects of the project that raise awareness with those who live and work in the vicinity of the project sites. It is crucial that sustainable management is embedded in everyday activity and local communities that use the areas.”

Hen harriers feature on 2021 WHT habitat stamp

2021 - Hen Harriers on Swinton Estate by Simon TurveyA painting of a pair of hen harriers flying across open moorland has been revealed as the artwork on this year’s Wildlife Habitat Trust (WHT) conservation stamp.

Painted by leading wildlife artist Simon Turvey, the male and female hen harriers were painted at the Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire.

This year’s unveiling also comes with the announcement that all the money raised from the sale of the stamps will go directly towards supporting hen harrier conservation. The contribution will go alongside the £4,800 grant awarded by the Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust earlier this month to Swinton Estate for hen harrier surveillance cameras.

Paul Williamson, WHT secretariat and BASC’s head of land management, said: “The WHT was thrilled when Simon accepted the 2021 habitat stamp artwork commission. Simon is a renowned wildlife artist and has previously been secretary to the Society of Wildlife Artists.

“Choosing the hen harrier as the subject illustrates BASC’s and the WHT’s positivity in their recovery. Our organisations are committed to the conservation of hen harriers and other raptors across the UK.

Discussing hen harriers in an interview for BASC’s Shooting and Conservation magazine, Simon said: “I get there’s an element of controversy for some people; however, this is not about promoting game shooting but promoting the conservation of landscapes, in particular moorlands.”

Swinton Estate awarded a Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust grant

In 2021 Swinton Estate, in North Yorkshire, was awarded a Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust grant of £4,800 for the purchase and installation of camera recording equipment to record and monitor hen harriers on the Estate.

The camera will be deployed on the Estate’s active hen harrier nest site in the spring and then the hen harrier winter roost site.

The recordings will provide valuable information to aid research into hen harrier ecology.

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