Bannau Brycheiniog National Park is part of a partnership known as Gylfinir Cymru, which has received support from Welsh Government through the National Heritage Lottery Fund to take action to prevent the extinction of curlews across Wales. Nearly £1 million has been announced to fund curlew recovery in three key areas across Wales.
The curlew (Numenius arquata) is an iconic species that is referenced in history, theology, literature and the arts. Their call is evocative and represents the herald of spring. The curlew is the UK’s largest wading bird, brown with streaky feathers. It has a distinctive long curved bill and long legs. Its bubbling call is a delightful and unmistakeable sound that is disappearing from our landscape.
Curlews are known as bioindicator species, or “umbrella species” meaning that if we protect them, a range of other species and habitats will benefit as well. They represent the overall health of an ecosystem.
Curlews come to the National Park to breed in the spring and summer months. They gather around locations such as the muddy margins around Llangors Lake to get into condition prior to pairing up (they are faithful birds) at their traditional breeding sites in the Usk Valley. They then go back to the same breeding territories every year. Favoured areas are traditional meadows away from woodlands and predators. Once fledged, the young birds and the adults return to the coast where they spend the winter months foraging along the shore and estuaries in a comparatively mild climate.
Curlews are an intrinsic part of the National Park’s ecosystem and we have undertaken much work to protect them.
- We have funded the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (WWBIC) to undertake habitat preference mapping for across the whole of the Usk Valley Important Curlew Area to identify suitable areas to focus curlew recovery work.
- We have funded and secured the employment of the County Bird Recorder to undertake surveys of curlews in the Important Curlew Area for two breeding seasons, 2022 and 2023. He has been working with the volunteers and landowners to ensure all sightings are recorded so we can understand how curlews utilise the landscape.
- We have sourced funding from Local Places for Nature (LP4N) to purchase 11 sets of electric predator exclusion fencing.
- We are a member of Gylfinir Cymru, (the Welsh curlew partnership) that meets regularly to ensure the Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of the Curlew is being implemented using specialisms and advice from across Wales.
- We are working alongside the University of South Wales to undertake drone nest location surveys in targeted areas. An MSc student is also surveying curlews within a specific location in the Important Curlew Area as part of her thesis.
- We are working alongside the Natural Resources Wales Four Rivers for Life team to identify where we can undertake joint action to implement appropriate and sustainable land management throughout the Usk Catchment.
- We have sourced some funding through Sustainable Landscapes, Sustainable Places (SLSP) to undertake capital works in targeted areas and to support farmers.
- We have been successful in our application to Sykes Holiday Cottages for sponsorship funding to produce communications to raise awareness of the curlew and to promote responsible behaviour.
- We have been successful in a joint bid (with the Clwydian Range AONB, Dee Valley AONB and Curlew Country, led by Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) to Nature Networks for a project spanning up to seven Important Curlew Areas across Wales. This project is called Curlew Connections and will employ an officer for up to three years to work with farmers and communities to undertake curlew recovery work within the Usk Catchment and Llangors Lake Important Curlew Area .
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