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Closeup curlew bird with its long slender beak

Farmers and volunteers on rescue mission for nesting curlews

Curlew numbers are falling so fast in the valleys of South Lakeland that they may disappear altogether. Their future as a breeding bird is on a knife edge so Morecambe Bay Partnership volunteers and farmers have stepped in on a mission to protect their nests.

Protecting the Curlews

Curlews are our largest wading birds with a distinctive long, curved bill and are much loved for their evocative and haunting cry. They were once very common countryside birds but now they are an endangered species with 30% of their population being lost in the last decade. Curlews nest on the ground so eggs and chicks can be easily eaten by predators or accidentally crushed so every nest is critical to their survival. Many curlew pairs have been failing to fledge chicks for several years in a row, which means that curlew numbers are plummeting.

Working with the Farmers

Working together with local farmers, the volunteers have identified a handful of nest sites to protect the precious eggs from destruction. To help the curlews protect their brood from badgers and foxes, they have been installing electric fences around a broad area of the fields where they are nesting.

““The farmers are the heroes in this conservation story"”

Susannah Bleakley
CEO and Curlew Champion

Amy Hopley, our Nature and Wildlife Officer said “The protected nests are now beginning to hatch, and the chicks must avoid both predators and farm machinery for the next 5 weeks until they can fly. Each chick fledged is a ray of hope for the future of curlews but they are not out of the woods yet”.

CEO and curlew champion, Susannah, added “The farmers have been amazing – they have been so accommodating to help the breeding curlews. And it has made a real difference. This year we know that 6 chicks have hatched and there are more nests still incubating. The farmers are the heroes in this conservation story.”

You can see some of the adorable pictures of chicks and fascinating insights into the domestic life of a curlew family from our remote camera on twitter at @_MBay

Support the Curlews

If you'd like to help, there's still time to donate to the curlew fundraising campaign.

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