The UK’s population of Curlews has had a 67% decline since the 1970s, half of which had happened in the last 20 years.
Why is this?
CHANGES IN FARMING: Increase in silage, which is cut earlier in the season and at intervals of 5-6 weeks, prevents the nesting curlews from raising their chicks before the grass is cut.
For example: Braydon Forest is a traditional curlew breeding area in North Wiltshire, between Malmesbury and Swindon; it is an ancient royal hunting ground, nowadays a land of rolling fields, with a hint of downland, some arable fields, some grassland much of which is cultivated for silage.
REFORESTATION: Forested land is totally unsuitable for open land birds like curlews. Huge reforestation programmes in upland areas have meant vegetation is uniformly tall which is bad for nesting curlews which need some short vegetation for feeding chicks.
INCREASE IN PREDATORS: Every year about 52 million reared game birds are released into the countryside, only 1/3 of these are shot. This means there is a massive increase in food for foxes – which results in a huge increase in the fox population which is not good for curlews, especially their chicks.
Curlew action is a charity dedicated to reversing the decline of curlews and promoting wider natural history education. https://www.curlewaction.org/
I’m very excited to announce I have become an ambassador for Curlew Action! I’m going to be helping them by spreading the word and getting more people involved with the wildlife around them!
If you can please donate – all donations will go to future events and training of volunteers for the Curlew Survival Toolkit (helping breeding curlews)! https://www.curlewaction.org/donate/
(Photos by Tim Melling)