Farmers help save critically endangered curlews in Severn and Avon Vale meadows - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Adult curlew standing amongst long grass and wildflowers
(Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust)

Farmers have joined forces with conservationists from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG) and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership in the floodplain meadows of the Severn and Avon Vale to help save the curlew - one of the UK’s rarest wading birds - as part of the new Flourishing Floodplains project running from 2022-2023.

Once a common sight and sound in the British countryside, curlews have become an increasingly rare part of our rural life thanks to changes in their lowland habitats, such as loss of species-rich floodplain meadows, and an abundance of predators. The UK holds a quarter of the world’s population but in our changing landscapes they are increasingly unable to rear chicks so their population is rapidly declining – the number of breeding birds has dropped by about 65% since 1970.

With fears that the species won’t survive without intervention, the Flourishing Floodplain project in the Severn and Avon Vale is seen as vitally important to inform curlew protection work right across the country. This year, researchers have found 18 nests – an improvement on previous years when numbers have been much lower.

The nests have been found with the help of local farmers, who alert the project team when they find eggs in their fields – and also change when they mow to avoid damaging eggs or newly hatched chicks. Their roles as “guardians of the curlews” are seen as vitally important to help protect these fast-declining waders.

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Posted On: 04/07/2022

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