Our Curlews are in Crisis!

Friday 6th April 2018

Curlew - Damian Waters / Drumimages.co.ukCurlew - Damian Waters / Drumimages.co.uk

We need your help to guide future conservation actions for this amazing bird …

We all know the bubbling call of the curlew – it’s the quintessential sound of spring in the Welsh uplands. Indeed, Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary and keen ornithologist, said in 1876: ‘Of all the bird songs or sounds known to me, there is none that I would prefer to the spring notes of the curlew... they suggest peace, rest, healing, joy, an assurance of happiness, past, present and to come.” The bird itself – the largest European wader – is also unmistakable, with its long legs and down-curved bill; and the UK supports 19-27% of the global breeding population.

It’s therefore rather disconcerting to learn that the Welsh breeding population has declined by 80% over the past 20 years. The 400 breeding pairs that remain in Wales require wet, tussocky grassland to breed between April and July, and this habitat is degraded or destroyed by silage cutting, overgrazing, land drainage, increased predation by mammals and the use of pesticides reducing invertebrate food for chicks.

The dire situation facing the curlew population in Wales was discussed in detail at the Wales Curlew Conference in Builth Wells in January. Organised by Mary Colwell, natural history producer at BBC Radio 4 and the author of Curlew Moon, the conference brought together many different organisations, farmers, landowners and journalists, all discussing the best way forward to try and reverse the species’s drastic decline.

North Wales Wildlife Trust supports the newly formed ‘Curlew Cymru’ action group, which will focus survey effort on the remaining key breeding areas in North Wales. Curlew Cymru are asking people to submit records of any possible breeding curlews in 2018: records can be sent to Cofnod.