July 13, 2024

Project underway to protect curlew population

Vital new work is underway to help protect and support Denbighshire’s curlew population.

The Clwydian Range & Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are taking part in an all Wales partnership project that aims to help curlew colonies across the country, including Denbighshire.

The curlew is one of Britain’s most iconic bird species. Its distinct and evocative song is a familiar sound; a harbinger of spring that is deeply ingrained within Welsh folklore and culture.

Today, the curlew is under severe threat, facing an uncertain future throughout Wales and is now considered to be the most pressing bird conservation priority in the UK. It is ‘Red Listed’ on both the Welsh and UK Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC).

Evidence suggests that since the 1990’s, Wales has lost over 80 percent of its breeding curlew population.  Now there may be as few as 400 breeding pairs of curlew (gylfinir in Welsh) left across the country.

Numbers are thought to be plunging at a rate of six percent a year for a variety of reasons including habitat loss, earlier silage cuts during the nesting season, as well as egg and chick predation by foxes and crows, meaning few chicks survive to adulthood and parent birds return to the coast to overwinter without any young.

The AONB is now part of a Wales wide partnership, Curlew Wales, a joint working group collaborating to curlew recovery in Wales. Curlew Wales produced a ‘Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew’ in 2021, setting out measures needed to address the decline curlews currently face. It identified 12 Important Curlew Areas in Wales, including three which are partly in the AONB (Berwyn, South Clwyd and also Ruabon).

Curlew Wales received funding from Welsh Government through the National Heritage Lottery to take action to prevent the extinction of curlews across Wales. This three-year project, called Curlew Connections Wales is a partnership between GWCT, CRDV AONB, Curlew Country and Bannau Brycheioniog National Park. Each area will have a dedicated Officer who will work with farmers, landowners and the wider community to raise awareness to the plight of the curlew as well as implementing targeted measures aimed at improving chick survival rates to bring stability to their population.

The AONB is currently recruiting for its own project officer and the job details can be found at this link: https://workfor.denbighshire.gov.uk/tlive_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID%3d280037CEws%1BUSESSION=CFEF79F4DB50B76C557F1A2670069E0F&WVID=7576912FL1&LANG=USA

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

“We are looking forward to seeing the dedicated officer put in place up here to work with the communities to bring together stronger support for this red listed species of bird.”