Wandering Waders

17 October 2018

Many groups and organisation such as the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, RSPB, National Farmers Union, The Forestry Commission and The British Trust for Ornithology came together last month at a conference in Perth to find a solution to the crisis facing the disappearance of the curlew, this big emblematic bird, symbol of the coast is in danger….
Curlew, Numenius Arquata, belong to a group of birds known as “waders”, because they spend parts of their life wading in shallow waters. Curlew spend the winter in coastal areas – around the UK they can be found on mudflats and estuaries in large flocks, sometimes numbering into the thousands. But these apparently large numbers mask a serious conservation issue.
In the summer curlew migrate to their breeding grounds. Historically, curlew were found breeding across Britain – in meadows, marshes and arable fields where they are now rarely seen. Today, their breeding range has contracted, and they are more often thought of as a bird of the uplands, breeding on moorland areas and farms around the hill edge. The breeding curlew population has dropped by 50% in the last 25 years in the UK, this issue has been reported in the rest of Europe also.
A fifth of the world’s Curlew population overwinter here in the UK and about a quarter stay in spring and summer to breed. Some of the nesting criteria the curlew is looking for can be found on Balcaskie, expanses of rough grassland with wet areas and low grazing pressure.
Many reasons have to be considered for the hard times that the curlew face – including loss and fragmentation of breeding habitat, increased nest and chick predation, human disturbance and nest destruction due to agricultural activities.
Curlew was added to the UK red list in in December 2015, and it is argued to be the most pressing bird conservation priority in the UK. The famously evocative and previously familiar call of the curlew is becoming increasingly rare and may very soon be lost. Balcaskie is working in partnership with “working for waders” to establish if we have breeding pairs on the estate and what measure of protection we can put in place for them.

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