Update on the 2016 breeding Curlew survey in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire

A note on the Curlew survey and a requests for records was posted on the GNS website earlier in March.  Below is a summary of activities during March, the first month of the survey:

Thanks, first of all, to the many observers who have submitted reports of Curlews in the last month.  Some salient points:

  • Mary Colwell-Hector is undertaking a 500 mile walk through Curlew breeding areas in Ireland and England to draw attention to the plight of the Curlew; you can read about her project on curlewmedia.com .
  • I have sent Mary some information about our survey, which she has posted on her website.
  • Mary is coming to Gloucestershire next week, and Phil Sheldrake of RSPB and I are going to visit Upham Meadow along the Avon with her.
  • By the end of March, most Severn and Avon Vale Curlews seem to be on territory (as you would expect).  Most of the males are bubbling over their territory, or walking round with their mates, asserting ownership of the territory.
  • The weather this March has not been very kind to nesting Curlews in the Severn and Avon Vales: there was a big flood (following floods in January and February) from 7 to 15 March, and the waters have come up again in the last four or five days, following the passage of storm “Katie”.  So this may delay the nesting season.
  • Numbers of territorial pairs do not seem to be very high so far; apart from a couple of sites like the Severn Ham at Tewkesbury and Upham Meadow, most sites seem to have only a single pair.
  • As regards the colour-ringed birds that winter on the Severn estuary, four have so far been recorded back on nesting territory (they are very site faithful and return every year to the same breeding site, generally to the same field); one was back in Netherlands by 22 February, one was back on the Yorkshire Moors by 18 March, and the two birds that nest locally at Ashleworth Ham and Upham Meadow have been seen in March.  Please keep an eye out for any colour-ringed Curlews in your own patch.
  • Finally, I have tried to check on communal roosts of Curlews which have been recorded in previous years; so far not much luck, because my evening visits have coincided with flooding, when the birds don’t concentrate in one place.  It would be particularly interesting to know if there are any evening roosts by water at other sites, for example along the Avon (maybe Bredon’s Hardwick Pits or Kemerton Lake NR?); or the gravel pits along the Severn in Worcestershire?  Or at Upton Warren?

Please submit any records to Mike Smart at [email protected]

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