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Rare birds flock to special ‘upland grain’ fields

4th May 2004

Rare and declining bird species have been flocking to fields planted with grain and cereal crops for them to eat as part of a pilot study in the Cairngorms.

The decline of cereal growing in the uplands of Scotland since the 1970s is thought to have had a serious impact on may bird species, with Corncrake, Corn bunting and Tree sparrow, becoming locally extinct in Badenoch and Strathspey.

At the suggestion of local farmers, the Upland Grain Project was set up to see what could be done to reverse this decline. On 8 to 10 sites, farmers agreed to grown sacrificial crops, and the presence of bird species was monitored on these sites and similar control sites. 41 species of bird used the sites, 85% per cent of which are rare, declining, or protected species.

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