Friday 23 April 2021

  • Public encouraged to report breeding Curlew sightings to NPWS between April and June
  • Citizen science records will inform 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey
  • Nine areas in key Curlew hotspots across the country are prioritised
  • Contact NPWS with any sightings

 

Citizen scientists can help bring one of Ireland’s most iconic birds back from the brink by reporting sightings to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The Curlew Conservation Programme is encouraging members of the public to record locations of Curlew sightings between April and June and report the information to the NPWS’s team. Breeding Curlew are currently nesting in bogs, pastures, meadows and other open and wet habitats in Curlew hotspots around the country. By submitting records of sightings, the public can help build up a national picture of the number of breeding birds.

Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said:

This is a fantastic way for people across the country to get to know the wild places in their county and, at the same time, to contribute to the conservation of one of our most iconic and best-loved birds. I’d like to encourage all budding citizen scientists young and old to get involved and help our Curlew Conservation Programme team to gather this important data, which will support the ongoing protection of the Curlew.

How to submit records:

–          By email:  nationalcurlewsurvey@gmail.com

–          By phone to the survey coordinator on 083 104 8000

–          Online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QRLHR7B here

The Curlew Conservation Programme – jointly funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – has been collaborating with landowners in nine key areas (listed below) since 2017 in an effort to halt the decline of a bird whose numbers decreased by 96% in a 30 year period. Curlew occur in flocks around many of our coasts in winter, but the vast majority are migrants, with only around 1 in 30 birds actually breeding here in the Spring.

Dr Seán Kelly, NPWS waterbird ecologist managing the 2021 breeding Curlew survey, said

Breeding Curlew populations in Ireland are amongst the country’s most pressing conservation priorities, of great concern to conservationists and the wider public alike. This enigmatic species has inspired generations of art and folklore, including the great William Butler Yeats – and much like the great works of Yeats, Curlew deserve to be cherished, celebrated and protected in Ireland. The 2021 National Breeding Curlew Survey will provide an update on the previous survey from 2015, letting us know how successful our efforts to date have been and what we need to do in the immediate future. There is huge positive momentum around the country for Curlew conservation, particularly in the farming community, and we need to build upon this.

The call of the Curlew is synonymous with the Irish countryside – from lowland grassland and raised bogs to our mountains and hills their distinctive ‘coorlew’ call is a sign of Spring. Like a growing number of our bird species, Curlew populations have declined dramatically – so much so that fewer than 200 breeding pairs now occur across Ireland.

In recognition of the seriousness of the threat to Irish breeding Curlew, Minsters Noonan and Hackett jointly increased funding to enhance conservation efforts earlier this year. At the launch of the enhanced financial support for the Curlew Conservation Programme, Minister Noonan described the situation for Curlew as “one of the most difficult and pressing conservation concerns of our time” and the funding allowing a strengthening of work between communities and conservationists, “working together to protect this iconic and much-loved bird”.

The nine key Curlew hotspots for the Curlew Conservation Programme are:

  • Stack’s Mountains, Kerry
  • Lough Corrib
  • Lough Ree
  • North Roscommon/Mayo
  • Mid-Leitrim
  • North Monaghan
  • Donegal
  • Slieve Aughty Mountains
  • Laois/Kildare

For more information on the Curlew Conservation Programme, including reports, see: https://www.npws.ie/farmers-and-landowners/schemes/curlew-conservation-programme