Mid-May Curlew Season Update

New beginnings – Eggs, Returning Chicks and New Collaborations - Amanda Perkins

Curlew Nest Finding

After a late spring, the first egg was still found at around the usual time in late April.  Ornithologist Tony Cross managed to find and collect many eggs to be headstarted in the first few weeks of May.  It is always a race to find nests before they are predated.  Assistant Ornithologist, Caleb Stradling who has recently joined Curlew Country for the season was welcome help as the pressure mounted.

Credit: C Stradling

Returning Headstarted Chicks

Credit: C Stradling

Among the first headstarted birds returning to set up territories locally were four chicks headstarted in 2021 and returning to area in which they hatched and were reared after 2 years at a coast or estuary. Now that the incubators are full, the ornithologists will be checking more sightings and ring numbers.

 The first ever headstarted chick returned to breed in 2019.  We now have three on just one farm.  All are paired up and nesting and we have taken eggs from headstarted birds and reared and released chicks.

Headstarting 2023

This year we will be working with avicultural experts the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge who will be incubating the eggs found.  The incubators are full to achieve the maximum of 32 chicks that we are able to rear under our Natural England headstarting licence this year.  The first cohort of chicks should be out in the pens in the Shropshire Hills in early June.


The number of chicks to be reared under licence this year is slightly lower than usual and is due to  bio-security measures at Slimbridge.  Here in the Shropshire Hills. and we have been tweaking arrangements in place given the ongoing avian flu outbreaks across the UK.  

New Collaborations and Partnerships

This year we will be working in partnership with the Curlew Recovery Partnership, British Trust for Ornithology, WWT and Upper Thames Wader Group on a research project in Shropshire, with funding from the Species Recovery Programme. 

In Wales we will be working in partnership on a natural nests Curlew Recovery with Gylfinir Cymru (Curlew Wales), The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB (Denbighshire), Bannau Brycheichniog (Breacon Beacons). Curlew Country will be working throughout Montgomershire. Partner The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust will be hosting the project called Curlew Connections.

Credit: C Stradling

We have found the nest that we hope will be the Curlew Cam nest…

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