Curlew Recovery South Lakes

Volunteers and farmers are working to improve breeding success of curlews

Farming in Protected Landscapes funding bought nest monitoring equipment, electric fences and a study into the conservation of local curlews. Our funding meets Curlew Recovery South Lakes' aim to:

  • Improve curlew breeding success
  • Improve curlew conservation awareness for farmers and volunteers
  • Better understand the numbers of curlews present, chicks hatched, chicks fledged and the reasons for breeding failure

Curlews are at risk of becoming extinct

Barny Sykes said: "The haunting call of the curlew is familiar to many in the Lyth Valley. But it’s a call that’s becoming increasingly rare. The UK’s breeding curlew population has halved in the last 25 years. They’re on the UK red list for endangered birds, and there’s a high risk of Curlews becoming extinct.

"Curlews can live for up to 30 years, but, almost always, fail to fledge any chicks. It’s critical, with the help of farmers, to increase their breeding success in the valley. Otherwise, we may never hear their evocative call again.”

He continued: "The Lyth Valley is largely meadow and pasture. Curlews lay their first eggs at the end of April / beginning May, with farmers often taking the first cut of silage a few weeks later. Without our volunteers, working with farmers, finding, protecting and monitoring the nests, the eggs will almost all be lost. So it’s great that farmers are happy to collaborate with us to help the breeding curlews.”

How FiPL funding helps

Specifically, the equipment will:

  • Protect more curlew nests through the use of electric fencing.
  • Allow volunteers to directly monitor curlews and eggs in the nest without disturbing them. 4G cameras give them near real-time monitoring of nests. They can see successes, failures, plus the current status of the nest. They can also see egg hatching, so that chicks can be ringed by a qualified expert before they leave the nest. The cameras also tell volunteers which predators are active on curlew nests.
  • Temperature logging iButtons record nest and external temperatures every 10 minutes. Comparing these shows the behaviour of the sitting bird, adding to our knowledge of the outcome of a nesting curlew’s breeding attempt.

“I was a complete novice when it came to my first FiPL funding application. So it took a while to work through. My second and third were much quicker. My link officer has been very supportive about what we want to achieve and helped to make things happen.”

Good for people, as well as curlews

Some quotes from local people show the positive impact of this project.

"The curlews are so important to our sense of home and place."

"We have seen amazing amounts of wildlife whilst volunteering with the group. It has given me a much deeper connection to nature, the landscape, the farmers and other local enthusiasts."

"There is so much interest and enthusiasm in the village. Everyone keeps asking for the latest updates on ‘our’ curlews."

"This project is making a real difference for the curlews in our valley and our relationship with the valley."

About Curlew Recovery South Lakes

Now a charity, CRSL has a wide base of volunteers. Their mission to save local curlews began a few years ago, helped by experts, and supported by funding. Ultimately their aim is to help curlews to survive and thrive in our landscape for future generations.

  • A curlew in long grass, standing over its eggs.

  • A hatched curlew chick, with brown and beige speckled down, standing at the edge of its nest.

  • Four brown curlew eggs in a nest, surrounded by long grass.