Please help us to help the Curlew

20120802 Coombe Hill Curlew juvenileMessage from Gordon Kirk, Chairman of the Gloucestershire Ornithological Coordinating Commitee (GOCC):

“For many people the wonderful ‘bubbling’ summer song of the Curlew is one of the iconic sounds of the countryside, but sadly it is heard less and less; the UK’s breeding population is estimated to have fallen by 43% in 20 years.  Curlew has very recently been added to the “Red List”, and is now considered by many to be the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species, because of the high proportion of the international population that breeds in UK.  Curlews are not raising enough chicks to sustain their population; predation, habitat change in upland breeding areas, and modern farming practices seem to be the main reasons.  Although most British Curlews breed in upland habitats, there are also important lowland populations, mostly in hay-meadows but also in various habitats where there is rough grassland.  In Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Curlews still breed in the Severn and Avon vales, and there are a few pairs on the Cotswolds.  These birds can often be helped by involving farmers and other landowners and working with them; for example it may be possible to delay the hay harvest in some fields for a few days to enable young birds to fledge.

“To try to help Curlews, a local project is aiming to find all our breeding birds in 2016 and see what help can be offered to them and the landowners on whose land they are nesting. The area involved is Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire and the partnership includes the Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, RSPB and the Gloucestershire Ornithological Coordinating committee.  A small team of experienced volunteers will be studying the well-known sites, but because Curlews can be quite catholic in their choice of habitat we are also asking people to report any Curlew seen or heard in potential breeding habitat between 1 March and 31 July so it can be followed up. We are particularly keen to hear from you if you are a farmer or landowner with Curlews on your land.

“Please report your sightings to Mike Smart, either by email or by phone (landline 01452.421131, mobile 07816.140513).”

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