We had hoped to be letting you know about exciting plans for the season, including headstarting with volunteers, associated training and monitoring the return of chicks released in 2018 from the headstarting initiative etc.
Curlew Country is most fortunate to work with a great and growing team of dedicated and supportive, farmers, land managers and volunteers. We would not wish to compromise their safety and well-being or add to anxiety at this difficult time. We had struggled to find full funding for the season, which was already a pressure and constricting the work we aimed to be doing. The increasing daily constraints of COVID-19 have led us to take the decision to mothball most curlew recovery work for the time-being.
In the early stages of the breaking news we consulted some of the volunteers whom we would have been relying upon to help with headstarting this year. We realised that there are a high percentage who are ‘vulnerable’ and that headstarting could not go ahead.
This decision has now been extended to fieldwork as well. We could have continued fieldwork risk-free, but at a higher cost and with reduced effectiveness on the ground, during social distancing. We believe that it is unlikely that circumstances will change to let us go ahead with the 2020 season’s fieldwork. There may be further confinements to present working arrangements. which would waste any precious resources expended if we started work on the ground. If circumstances do change quickly, we will re-consider.
Whilst our team is unlikely to get out onto the ground, Amber and I will take the much needed opportunity to catch up on the big backlog of tasks which should help get the project into a stronger more organised situation to start the next season.
We will be frustrated not to know how the returning curlews are faring in our landscape this season. Many of you who live locally, have been reporting sightings, for which thank you. Some of you are already reporting back from your daily exercise walks. Please do keep these reports coming in during the season. They do form an important part of our data gathering and will be the only data we are likely to have this year. We are particularly keen to know if anybody spots colour ringed birds, as we hope that some of the 21 headstarted curlew from 2018 will return to the area.
We will continue with blogs and news updates as they become available.
Most importantly, the Curlew Country team all thank you for your continued support and send you all our heartfelt best wishes for staying safe and healthy.