The 2020 Curlew Cam Curlew nest was found by Wynford and Joyce Jones who are some of Curlew Country’s dedicated farming partners. As well as going to great lengths to help the Curlew pair whose territory is partly on their farm, they have also helped the project by volunteering their time and expertise to help out with all sorts of things, from head-starting to presentations.
Could you start by telling me a little bit about yourselves, and your farming background?
We have been farming for, well, all our lives. We’ve been at Oakdale now for 40 years, breeding Simmental cattle. We’re also very interested in nature and all kinds of wildlife. Now we’re semi-retired and let a lot of the land out. And that’s about it really.
What do you farm?
Simmental, and sheep, we do still keep some sheep. Blue faced Leicester. We’ve always been interested in pedigree breeds, and we breed rams.
What is your favourite thing about farming?
My favourite thing about farming, is probably going through all the seasons. Spring is my favourite, as you see the calves and the lambs running around. I always think spring has come when I hear the first curlew.
Can you tell us about some of the wildlife you see on your farm?
I’ve noticed this time there seems to be an awful lot more birds about. We saw, yellowhammers, we’ve got those here. There seems to be a lot of everything. Yellow wagtail, two partridge, not the grey partridge, but I haven’t seen those before. For some reason the wildlife seems to be doing well at the moment. They say sparrows are in decline, but we’ve got hundreds of them nesting around the buildings. Noisy little things. Thrushes in the garden. We’ve got a pool, we made about 20 years ago with ducks, moorhens, and little grebe. Plus, we also get a lot of frogs.
What have you done to help support this wildlife?
We planted a lot of new hedges and let them grow about 6ft wide and 6ft high. That supports a lot of wildlife. Where there were just pig netting fences before. And over the years we’ve planted a lot of woodland. Probably pushing 20 acres of woodland. Plus, planting quite a few oak trees in the hedgerows, which is good. I always think you’ve got to do that as when these trees die, they need replacing. They are home to so many different insects.
What is your first memory of Curlew?
When I was a child, there were curlews and lapwings everywhere. You didn’t have to go far to see one. But now, you’ve got to go a long way to see one. Up the valley from Churchstoke to Lydham, as far as I know, there’s only a few pairs and the reliable one is down here with us.
What is it about Curlew that you and other farmers love?
I think the sound in the spring. There’s nothing quite like it. As I said, when I see a curlew, I always think spring is not too far away.
What has it been like working with Curlew Country?
I’ve learnt a lot. And when I first heard about Curlew Country I thought oh here’s another lot. But Curlew Country do things, which Is what I like. There’s no messing, you do it.
The pair here have quite a bit of history, can you tell us more about them?
They do, the first pair, we bought some land adjoining and we fertilised it in middle of May, and the tractor went about a foot from the nest. We had no idea Curlews were there. They survived. When it came harvest time, the field was mowed, and despite a lot of checking to find the chicks, one chick went up the mower and shot out the back! He was fine, and this was a few days before he fledged. And I think he thought, ‘to hell with this I’m out of here’, and fledged a little earlier, after that experience. Some farmers are not aware of Curlews, but I think Curlew Country has really made farmers more aware of them. I used to see them in the spring, and think oh the curlew is back, and your busy, so you think no more about it. Now more people know that, yes, the Curlews are back, but life is tough for them.
Have you been watching Curlew Cam?
Yes, Joyce Is glued to it. I don’t expect to get any lunch today. And my daughter in Brisbane is watching. It would be nice if they all hatch quick. If it takes a couple of days, I could be hungry…
Is there anything else you would like to say?
All I can say is with this pair, I hope the chicks fledge.