Curlews are a much-loved bird, which grace the National Park with their iconic song. For many years we have been working to protect the curlew and its habitat and we have some exciting developments on the horizon. Many people share our passion for the curlew and as we embark on the next phase of our curlew work, we have produced an FAQ to share our plans.
Where will we be working in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park?
The Usk Catchment and Llangors Lake Important Curlew Area is going to be the focus area of the project. This is where most curlew records are located. That does not mean that we will not consider working with curlews outside of our area. The focus area was designated as an “Important Curlew Area”, one of 12 across Wales. Bannau Brycheiniog is the lead organisation for Usk Catchment and Llangors Lake Important Curlew Area.
What is headstarting?
Headstarting is a temporary measure to save curlew until more complex measures are put in place. It involves removing eggs from active nests and placing the eggs into incubating units. After artificial incubation, they are hatched and reared and moved into pens before being released back into the wider countryside. Headstarting isn’t happening in Wales yet although discussions are underway to consider the feasibility of this considerable intervention practice (curlewwales.org)
Will we be headstarting curlew chicks?
No, not immediately. One of the aims of the project will be to get a deeper understanding of what our existing local curlews require in the landscape and to ensure that suitable curlew habitat is available. This is not to say that headstarting won’t happen in the future, but we are taking the precautionary approach to headstarting based on the best scientific advice available.
Who will we be working with?
We will be working alongside project partners (Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, Curlew Country, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) as well as other conservation organisations, researchers, the farming community, young people, and specialists experienced in curlew recovery projects.
What will the Curlew and People Officer be doing?
Working with landowners and managers, farmers, local communities and partner organisations, the Curlew and People Officer will undertake effective monitoring and deliver targeted conservation works aimed at increasing chick productivity to maintain viable populations of curlew within this landscape.
How are curlews doing?
If we adopt a business-as-usual approach where little to no conservation actions are taken, in Wales breeding curlew is expected to be on the brink of extinction by 2030. We need to act now.
Local factors affecting our curlew populations include predation to eggs and nests by both avian and mammalian predators, early silage cutting, disturbance by walkers with dogs off-lead, lack of available permanent pasture, monocultures, land drainage (lack of available damp pasture for curlew chicks to forage in), tree planting. This range of factors highlights the challenges we are up against when undertaking curlew recovery, but we are ready to take this challenge on with the support of partners, farmers, specialists, volunteers, and citizen scientists – without everyone, this project will not be a success.
What is the solution to halting the decline of our curlews?
There is not one answer to this question. Curlews require a suite of interventions to fulfil their ecological needs and work will need to take place on a landscape scale. We are building a picture of how our curlews are faring and looking at the factors that are affecting their survival. Working alongside and supporting farmers to choose curlew-friendly conservation measures will play a large part of the work.
What can I do to help with the Curlew Connections project?
What are the benefits to looking after curlews?
By taking responsibility for the ecological requirements of the curlew, we can maximise opportunities for a wide range of other species as well as improving grassland habitats to aid a range of public goods, such as carbon sequestration, water storage and flow management.
To find out more about our curlew work please CLICK HERE.