Shrop­shire project: learn­ing curve to save curlew

Sporting Shooter - - Shooting News -

A mem­o­rable mid-sum­mer’s evening walk on the Stiper­stones was ul­ti­mately re­warded with the evoca­tive call of curlews for mem­bers of the Shrop­shire branch of the Game & Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust (GWCT).

Led by Amanda Perkins of the Curlew Coun­try Project, which is hosted by GWCT, and Austin Wel­don, GWCT re­gional ad­vi­sor, some 60 mem­bers walked and talked on the evening of 26 June, hear­ing about the work be­ing un­der­taken by the project to en­gage farm­ers and im­prove the long-term sur­vival of this red listed bird.

Within the scheme area, which en­com­passes farm­land in west Shrop­shire, bor­der­ing Wales and in­clud­ing the Stiper­stones and Corn­don Hills, the curlew pop­u­la­tion has di­min­ished by 30% in 11 years. This dra­matic de­cline re­flects the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pic­ture.

Amanda Perkins said: “While our lo­cal curlew pop­u­la­tion is small, it is sig­nif­i­cant in com­par­i­son to else­where. This is the project’s fourth year and we are now work­ing with around 60 farm­ers and land man­agers.”

In 2017, the Curlew Coun­try Project’s in­ter­ven­tions to re­duce mam­malian predators in­cluded elec­tric fenc­ing and fox con­trol. This re­sulted in many more chicks hatch­ing suc­cess­fully, al­though the num­ber of those that fledged was still very low.

Austin Wel­don said: “When the chicks hatch, they leave the nest af­ter only a cou­ple of days, in search of in­sects and other in­ver­te­brates to eat and are very vul­ner­a­ble to pre­da­tion.

“We needed to do some­thing more, so this sea­son, we have been granted a li­cence to head-start curlew chicks, in­volv­ing har­vest­ing eggs from wild nests to in­cu­bate, and rear the re­sult­ing chicks that hatch un­til they are old enough to re­lease into the wild. By har­vest­ing from first clutch, birds nat­u­rally try for a sec­ond nest.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.