CURLEW IN AC­TION

Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Curlews -

of the site in 2011, it was clear that years of over­graz­ing by hun­dreds (thou­sands at one point) of sheep was caus­ing a ma­jor is­sue. The an­i­mals had re­moved all the heather in some ar­eas, and Pur­ple Moor Grass, un­palat­able to sheep, had taken over. The dense growth of this grass meant that no other plants could get a hold, and large sec­tions were un­suit­able for nest­ing. The veg­e­ta­tion was sim­ply too dense to sup­port breed­ing Curlew. So, work­ing with lo­cal farm­ers, the sheep were re­moved and re­placed with a smaller num­ber of tra­di­tional breeds of cat­tle. The man­age­ment team have cut a mo­saic of patches through the veg­e­ta­tion, giv­ing the cows a head start on eat­ing, and break­ing up the Pur­ple Moor Grass. The Part­ner­ship re-wet­ted dried out bogs and mires by block­ing drainage ditches, al­low­ing the growth of sphag­num moss, which helped fur­ther di­ver­sify the veg­e­ta­tion, cre­at­ing an open struc­ture per­fect for Curlew chicks. Heather has be­gun to re­turn and, since 2011, Curlew pairs had in­creased from 17 to 24, with ev­i­dence of suc­cess­ful fledg­ing of chicks. The East­ern Moors team placed nest cam­eras on five Curlew nests in 2015 and were re­warded with suc­cess­ful hatch­ing of all of the nests.

Pre­da­tion prob­lems

In other parts of the coun­try, an ad­di­tional prob­lem for the Curlew is the high lev­els of pre­da­tion by Foxes, crows, Stoats and Weasels. But Curlews and the an­i­mals pre­dat­ing their young are all na­tive UK species, so why is this a prob­lem now? There’s a phe­nom­e­non known as the ‘edge ef­fect’, where the bor­der be­tween two habi­tat types has an im­pact on what hap­pens in those ar­eas. In the up­lands, the in­crease of com­mer­cial conifer forests has bro­ken up moor­land ar­eas. Those forests sup­port pop­u­la­tions of preda­tors, which come out on to the moor­land to hunt. Trees on the bor­ders of moor­lands or wet­lands pro­vide perch­ing places for Car­rion or Hooded Crows, which will be look­ing out for wader eggs and chicks. These changes to the land­scape now put preda­tors in the midst of Curlew habi­tats. Plus, the patchy na­ture of suit­able Curlew habi­tat may also be an ad­van­tage to preda­tors, who are able to select and re­main in those small ar­eas where waders are nest­ing. So, as a re­sult of changes in land man­age­ment, Small fluffy Curlews haven’t yet got the tools to feed like adults! The Curlew is com­fort­ably our largest wader, with a bill to probe deeper than any other

The Part­ner­ship re-wet­ted dried out bogs and mires by block­ing drainage ditches, al­low­ing the growth of sphag­num moss, which helped fur­ther di­ver­sify the veg­e­ta­tion, cre­at­ing an open struc­ture per­fect for Curlew chicks BA­BIES FROM EGGS

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