May 22, 2024

Project starts to connect curlews with stronger protection

A project is underway to encourage rural communities to help an under-threat bird survive.

The Clwydian Range & Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are taking part in the project ‘Curlew Connections Wales’, a Curlew Recovery Wales partnership project working with Bannau Brycheiniog and GWCT.

This is under the all-Wales partnership project Gylfinir Cymru an all-Wales partnership project that aims to help breeding curlew across the country, including Denbighshire.

The curlew is under severe threat and is ‘Red Listed’ on both the Welsh and UK Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC).

Statistics gathered suggested that since the 1990’s over 80 percent of the breeding curlew population has been lost across Wales.

The decline is due to a number of reasons including habitat loss, earlier forage – instead of silage? silage cuts during nesting season and the impact of predation on the birds.

Now work is on to protect the birds across 12 areas in Wales which is funded by Welsh Government through the Heritage Lottery fund (HLF).

Local Curlew & People Officer Sam Kenyon is leading the work for the AONB area which takes in large areas of Denbighshire, parts of Flintshire and parts of Wrexham.

Coming from a farming background Sam hopes her life experience will help with working side by side with rural communities to offer great protection to the under threat bird through stronger local partnerships.

Sam, who is also vice chair for Nature Friendly Farming Network Cymru said: “I have a small farm of 160 acres near St Asaph on the River Elwy, 60 acres woodland and the rest is flood plain meadows

“While farming I’ve always looked at what’s happening in designated landscapes and been a little bit envious of the projects. Coming from Sussex originally from a 1000-acre council farm and seeing nature depleting and the balance tipping in species rather than a balance of lots of different species…I’ve grown up with that awareness, knowing that there are pressures on us farmers as well as on nature.”

People can make a huge difference to the positive outcome of this project by working together, Sam explains: “It’s about people as well as the curlew in our landscape and I’m really passionate about spreading the feeling I have that farmers can deliver solutions when they are supported to and we deserve some of that feel good factor for making the change and for including nature in all the decisions we make on the farm.

“Now I’m out and about meeting farmers to find out where curlew has been historically. I’m only going back through the last five years because I know that they were quite a lot more common 30 to 40 years ago. It’s more that I want to know where they have been more recent so we can concentrate our surveying and monitoring efforts there.

“So, we are going to take on a nest finder, I want to concentrate on building relationships of trust with people out in the communities, so they know we are there to monitor curlew presence or absence.

Sam said: “It’s getting a good idea of where we need to concentrate our efforts as its such a big area, working out where we are going to concentrate with protecting the nests using electric fencing kits.”

From recent surveying of the area, evidence suggests that there could be around 50 pairs of curlews nesting.

Sam added: “We will be monitoring and surveying this Spring and then it’s protecting the eggs and then we will be monitoring the birds, and for the fledglings that is five weeks on the ground from hatching.

“Anyone out walking in the area along public rights of way if they see or hear curlew, they can send in their location using What 3 Words to myself and that would go a along way in helping us with this project.”

Councillor Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport and Biodiversity Champion, said: “This is a very important project for a bird that was once a popular sight not just in Denbighshire and North Wales but across the whole of the UK. I’m grateful that this project and funding allows the AONB to really push forward with protecting the curlews we have and encouraging the populations to survive and hopefully grow in the future.

“Its also great to have such a dedicated officer leading the project on a local level and I hope communities will strongly support her and join with her to give the help this red listed bird needs.”

For further information on the project or to report any sightings or hearings of curlews in the areas listed please email [email protected]