What has been achieved since the Curlew Country Project began in 2014:
• Worked with land managers to design a project that they can support and now working with over 60 farmers and land managers.
• Engaged field ornithologists to carry out three years of nest monitoring to find out why local birds are failing to breed successfully.
• Demonstrated that predation is the most urgent problem to be dealt with when addressing nest failure at egg stage.
• Set up a Project Advisory Group of technical experts.
• Raised over £100,000 to support the work of the project so far.
• Implemented a programme of community artwork to raise awareness and engage people in helping to save local curlew.
• Engaged a farm business manager to work with farmers and establish the true cost to a range of farming enterprises if supporting breeding curlew on their land, so that data can be fed back to local and national policy makers.
• Colour ringed migratory curlew to gain a better understanding of their winter and summer habits.
• Satellite tagged a migratory curlew to gain a more detailed picture of curlew movements during the nesting season as well as during the winter.
• Set up an online wader sighting recording system to provide a simple effective means of reporting casual wader sightings.
• Worked with a European partner to be the first to trial protective electric fencing on the UK mainland.
• Implemented two trial traditional predation control areas of 1000ha.
• Responded with advice to requests from other non-upland curlew projects in early stages of development and shared information at a national level with other curlew projects.
• Liaised with local Community Wildlife Groups to continue programme of gaining information about local curlew from British Trust for Ornithology methodology surveys.
• The project has been cited as an exemplar of good practice at an All Party Parliamentary Group, a European Directives meeting.
• Hosted a number of curlew experts who have come to visit the project. The RSPB national Curlew Recovery Project has visited to see what is being done for the Shropshire and Welsh Marches curlew. The British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and members of the ‘Call of the Curlew’ group have all visited the project.
• Trained conservation volunteers, land managers and fox control contractors to ensure best practice.
• Initiated arts activities including sculpture workshops, writing workshops, the formation of a choir with especially composed music and culminating in a major outdoor event.
What extra work is being carried out in the Curlew Country Project in 2017?
• Close nest monitoring on as many nests as possible, but without cameras.
• Trialling electric fencing on as many nests as possible.
• Fitting GPS/geo tags to a small number of adult birds to discover more about adult behaviour and in particular foraging territories.
• Following the issue of a licence from Natural England, trialling egg incubation to boost the numbers of chicks hatching and fledging.
• Forming a steering group with strong representation from farmers and land managers.
• Nest finding training for local volunteer surveyors and representatives from other southern curlew projects.
• Two new arts initiatives:
o A farming reminiscences project – Curlew Conversations to record the rural community’s memories of waders in case they are lost altogether. This project will also be a gentle way of exploring with farmers and land managers what has changed on the land, in respect of land management, and may prompt other views on the reasons for curlew decline.
o A Case for Curlew – This is a family based project that prompts exploration of people’s thoughts and awareness of the local curlew population.
• Production of a ‘curlew observation’ training film in partnership with the BTO – farmers, volunteers and others are not familiar with the meaning of different curlew behaviour and calls. This film should help those engaged in trying to establish nest sites and curlew territories to be more accurate in their recordings, which in turn should help preserve curlew habitat.
• Installation of a live stream ‘curlewcam’.
• Establishing a legacy plan for the project, including funding.
• Working with a growing range of local, national and international partners to help secure curlew recovery throughout their range.
• Vegetation and invertebrate analysis on sample sites
What does the Curlew Country project want to achieve in the longer term?
• A sustainable curlew population.
• A model for establishing good ongoing working relationships with farmers to enable partner/successor projects to develop similar conservation work for other species, some of which may benefit from supporting curlew as an umbrella species.
• Responsibility for wader management delivered by farmers and other land managers.
• An awards system for land managers.
• Raise awareness of curlew needs among land managers (farmers, contractors, shoots, fox controllers and others) and deliver training where appropriate.
• Influence policy makers to provide adequate outcomes based support for land managers supporting breeding waders.
• Work with other curlew groups outside moorland and upland areas to achieve similar sustainability for UK curlew populations.