Curlew Power

March 2024

Mike Pollard

Curlews have the power to motivate and inspire people across Europe!

Our recent film, ‘Curlew River’ has been used by many other Curlew recovery projects to help inspire their stakeholders too – including farmers, policy makers and volunteers. Nearly six thousand people have watched the film on YouTube - way exceeding our expectations, and we have had some great feedback. You can watch it here:

A European Curlew Fieldworkers Conference was organised by the charity Curlew Action in Kings Lynn recently. Over ninety folk from across the continent met in person – from Finland to France and from all parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland, with many more online. There was a strong contingent from Oxfordshire, and we were involved in sharing our experience, giving presentations, and facilitating workshop sessions. Unusually for this type of event we were also treated to wonderful live music from singer David Gray during an ‘in conversation’ session with writer and broadcaster Mary Colwell.

The Curlew news from colleagues across Europe was not great I am afraid. There is intense pressure to further intensify agricultural production in remaining Curlew strongholds in the Netherlands and Germany, placing those birds under threat of local extinction and making the work of fieldworkers incredibly challenging. Hearing about their heroic work to save nests and chicks also helped put into perspective how fortunate we are in the Upper Thames to have extensive areas of hay meadows and pastures that are still relatively Curlew-friendly - thanks to the support of many farmers and the continued funding through our agri-environment schemes.

David Wailding, RSPB Otmoor, presenting at the Curlew Fieldworkers Conference Feb 2024

This year, Wild Oxfordshire is collaborating with the Curlew Recovery Partnership on what is called the ‘Curlew Solutions Trial.’ This initiative aims to improve our understanding of curlew breeding in grasslands, and the constraints driven by agricultural demands, to provide evidence of the effectiveness of conservation efforts to policy makers. Spread across 5 sites in England –Yorkshire Dales, Shropshire Hills, Breckland, Severn and Avon Vales and the Upper Thames - the project includes consultation with stakeholders through workshops, a review of the potential impact of conservation efforts on Curlew populations and novel research to assess what influences breeding success across project landscapes.

Mike Pollard presenting at the Curlew Fieldworkers Conference Feb 2024

Ten years ago, Curlew were almost the ‘forgotten bird’ of nature conservation.  Numbers were falling rapidly but they still seemed quite a familiar sight and few people seemed too concerned. Then, quite quickly, the red alert button was pressed – populations had collapsed in Ireland and big declines were being seen in Wales and across lowland England - rarely was a young Curlew to be spotted. An urgent response was required and after a period of essential ‘action planning,’ it is encouraging to see how quickly Curlew conservation work has scaled-up in the past decade. Dozens of Curlew recovery projects have emerged across Europe, with a vibrant network of fieldworkers and a growing collective of Curlew-friendly farmers leading the way.

The future of our Curlews in the Upper Thames remains very much in the balance - plenty of threats remain - but thanks to inspirational Curlews and the efforts of many there are now good reasons to be more optimistic that they can prosper in future decades.

If you would like to support the Upper Thames Curlew Recovery project with a donation please use this link. Thank you!

Group photo at the Curlew Fieldworkers Conference Feb 2024

You might also like:

Copyright © 2022 Wild Oxfordshire. All rights reserved. | Our Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | site by im23