Curlew Country Nest Monitoring Update
Wednesday May 17th, 2017 | Stephanie
This spring, the dry weather has caused unusual behaviour among curlew. Whilst their season started early it slowed right down as ground became too hard for adult birds to probe their bills into. The dry conditions have also meant the grass was not at a good height in which to form a nest without vulnerability to predators. Over the three years of close nest monitoring, each year has been different. We are particularly noticing the difference the weather has on nesting habits. Thanks to the recent rain late nesting activity is now well underway.
14 nesting pairs have been found so far and 6 of their nests have deterrent electric fences around them. The first four nests found were predated by crows. Crows have not been an issue during the previous years of our study. The rest remain active at the time of writing. Three of the pairs with failed nests are attempting a second nest and two of these have fences around them. We are waiting for the latest five nests to have full clutches before fencing those to minimise disturbance to the birds. Three farmers have shown us nest sites and a Community Wildlife Volunteer has found a nest in a similar place for the second successive year. A further 5 pairs are showing nesting behaviour but have not yet started to lay eggs.
Nest spotting is difficult but watching curlew behavioural patterns gives us clues to where the nests may be found. Many nests are formed and eggs are laid at about the same time. Nest failure can be implicated from adult behaviour especially as the breeding season progresses. If two adults are observed feeding nearby each other for some time, without any need to deter predators or return to a nest site then it is unlikely that there is a nest. If we see one bird we are watching carefully to find the partner and the nest. Nest finding does seem like feast or famine. Birds can fool us for days and then we give up on difficult to find nests only to find three the following day. We will never find all the nests, but we will keep trying until there are no more to investigate.
Please keep the reports coming in. Thank you to all who have contributed records via the Community Wildlife Group surveys or one of the casual recording methods. Sightings of birds mobbing avian predators and alarm calling are particularly important to us now to help us find as many nests as possible, please keep your sightings coming through one of the methods below:
Telephone Amanda Perkins, Curlew Country project manager, 01938 561741
or Leo Smith Community Wildlife Group bird survey co-ordinator 01694 720296 who will send the information onto the Curlew Country project.
Help us to try and save our local curlew population by supporting our public Curlew Country Appeal. You can donate online via paypal – just press the donate button above, or follow this link to donate by cheque or bank transfer.
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