Herefordshire Curlew Project 2021

Herefordshire Curlew Project 2021

An update on our curlew project - a collaboration with the Herefordshire Ornithological Club

It was another year of mixed success and disappointment but we continue to improve our understanding of Curlew behaviour (we think!) and expand our network of supporters, helpers and landowners.

We started the season with a list of 24 sites of which only one (possibly two) had any likelihood of holding more than one pair of Curlews. Of these, three were still only on our “possibles” list but were still felt worthy of continued investigation. First a summary of the good news:

  1. Our nest finding ability has improved and seven nests were found this year
  2. We have acquired some keen and useful new recruits
  3. Farmer engagement has been much expanded with nearly 100% cooperation
  4. One “new” site has been found with evidence of hatched young. This was actually in an area previously suspected but which had proved negative in earlier years.
  5. Four Curlew were colour ringed – three adults in the early season and one young (thankyou Tony Cross). Future observations of these birds might help us to learn more about their movements both in summer and winter.

And (inevitably) the bad news:

  1. Of the 24 sites surveyed, 10 showed no real evidence of breeding this year although five had at least some Curlew presence in early season. Disappointingly two of these were sites which last year had nesting attempts. From discussion in the Curlew Forum failure of pairs to set up a territory seems to have been a fairly common occurrence this year in other parts of lowland England. The inclement early spring weather is a likely cause.
  2. Only two young (from two sites) definitely reached fledging but there is a possibility that two or three other sites MAY have had fledged young.
  3. Nest losses were high with at least six first nests resulting in a relay. Corvid predation was strongly suspected at several sites and witnessed at one. We only used electric fencing at one nest where we thought foxes might be a problem and this reached hatching stage.
  4. Site losses – it seems likely that there up to four sites which may no longer have breeding Curlews but see 4 above (!) so perhaps we should never say never.


Chris Robinson (Project Leader)