Wading birds in the Park

Wading birds, or waders, are a group of birds that mostly spend their spring and summer breeding in upland areas like Northumberland National Park and return to the sea or lower ground in the winter.  Here you are most likely to see Lapwing, Snipe, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Golden plover and our emblem bird, the Curlew.

We have been surveying the Park to find out where the best areas are for breeding and with farmers improving the nesting habitat by cutting rushes, blocking drainage ditches and creating wet areas for them to feed.

When and where to see them

They arrive in March and April and stay until July/August, except for the snipe; some of which stay all year.  These birds all feed on invertebrates in the soil, mud or sand and different beak shapes and lengths mean they eat different things.

All the species nest on the ground so they camouflage themselves and their eggs in rush, heather and bogs on moorland and hills.  Some, like the lapwings, prefer shorter vegetation with a few rush patches, while snipe like wet areas with lots of cover.

Curlews often nest higher up the hill amongst heather, but like wet areas to probe with their long beaks.  Oystercatchers are often found along rivers and nest on shingle and short grass. Golden plover nest on bogs and high in the Cheviots.