Curlew Country

The Shropshire Hills & Welsh Marches Curlew Recovery Project

Spring is in the air.  Please let us have details of any local sightings of curlew, snipe and lapwing.  Follow this link to the 2017 online recording form

Many believe curlew to be the Herald of spring.  If urgent action is not taken soon, their distinctive call will no longer be heard. Within the Scheme area the curlew population has diminished by 30% in 11 years. This reflects the national and international picture.  While our local Curlew population is small it is significant in comparison to tiny populations elsewhere.

The project is:
• Monitoring curlew nests to discover why they are failing to nest locally
• Working with farmers to discover the true local costs of supporting nesting and foraging curlew in a farm business
• Trialling  management techniques during the nesting season
• Nest protection including predation control and a trial of electric fencing
• Working with local volunteer bird surveyors from the Community Wildlife Groups to locate nesting and feeding territories and record adult population numbers

  • And raising funds to continue the work of the project

Curlew Country Appeal

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.

To use PayPal you do not need a PayPal account click ‘continue’ next to the question “Don’t have a PayPal account?”
and you can use your credit card or debit card to make a one off or recurring payment.


For more information click on the links below:

Project Background

Record your 2017 sightings of Curlew, Snipe and Lapwing here

2017 Curlew Tracking – Doly is back in her breeding grounds in The Forest of Bowland

2016 & 2015 Nest Monitoring Surveys & Reports

Curlew Country Fox Control information – open pdf

Curlew Country 2016 Newsletter – open PDF

2016 Colour ringing and Satellite tagging

2016 Curlew Country Arts Project

Ways to DONATE to the Curlew Country Appeal

Live locally and love birds, you can help by

Farmers and Land Managers can help by…

Project Resources

Project Funding

Project Advisory Group




Background to the Project

For over a decade a dedicated group of volunteers belonging to the Upper Onny Wildlife Group has been surveying the local wader population according to BTO methodology and charted the serious decline in numbers. Before the Landscape Partnership Scheme came into being, local consultation was held extensively in respect of what sorts of projects should be included within the Scheme. Leo Smith, local consultant ornithologist and organiser of the volunteer surveyors had suggested that a wader project should be one of the LPS projects. 98% of voters wanted a curlew project to be part of the Scheme.

The project quickly developed from the one that was included in the Scheme. The original focus was on awareness raising within the Scheme area together with some low key monitoring. The existing project places great importance on working constructively with land managers to find out what is preventing the curlews from breeding successfully and then taking pragmatic steps to save the curlews. Generally we have found that local people treasure the curlew population and are keen to help. Very importantly, we have been working with about 40 farmers and they have been anxious not to do anything to knowingly disturb nests and birds that we have located on their land. Core funding was needed and ornithological expertise of local partners was engaged through the formation of a Project Advisory Group. Through this support we have been able to run the wider project for two years.


MONITORING & REPORTSchicks in nest1

2016 Curlew Nest Monitoring

Field ornithologists Tony Cross and David Tompkins closely monitored 20 curlew nests in the Scheme area.  Most nests failed mainly due to predation.  Three nests managed to hatch eggs.  With landowner permission, electric fencing was trialed at these sites to allowed the chicks to fledge. However, once beyond the safety of the fencing, the same dangers threaten the chicks and they were lost. This sad story is being replicated across the country. We are looking for funding to develop a 5 year project specifically aimed at protecting curlews.

Follow the link to download the summary of the 2016 nest monitoring report.

Follow the link to view the full 2016 Nest Monitoring Report.


2015 Curlew Nest MonitoringIMG_2512 (crop and lr)

Follow the links to download the 2015 nest monitoring pilot project. No chicks survived.
Curlew Recovery Project 2015 Summary
Curlew Recovery Project 2015 Report




SUPPORT our Curlew Public Appeal by donating

  • or send a cheque, payable to Ground-nesting Birds Recovery Group, to Stiperstones & Corndon LPS, 3 Shepherd’s Yard, Chirbury, Shropshire, SY15 6BH
  • or Bank Transfer: HSBC ,Welshpool sort code 40-46-07 a/c no. 21568655.



Colour ringing and Satellite tagging

Field ornithologists, Tony Cross and David Tompkins, carried out the 2016 Nest Monitoring Survey with the help of volunteers.  They colour ringed around 60 female curlews at Dolydd Hafren, a Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust reserve, and autumn and spring migratory site for waders.  Charting the whereabouts of these birds helps to build up a better national picture of curlew behavior and an understanding of their needs. A good number of these colour ringed curlews are breeding in the Scheme area.

Doly with mate in the Forest of Bowland

Doly with mate in the Forest of Bowland

Whilst colour ringing, Tony and David managed to successfully fit satellite tags to two female birds. Tags kindly donated by Ecology Matters.  We have named our tagged birds Doly and Fran. Doly has made her way up to the Forest of Bowland AONB where the RSPB have run a wader project since 2001.  The local project officer spied her with a mate nesting, but recently we have had firm reports of her on the coast of Counties Waterford and Wexford in Southern Ireland, which means that it is likely that her nest failed. Fran was last spotted around the Hay on Wye, but has gone quiet and we have not heard more.

Follow these links for more information:
Blog ‘Ruffled Feathers’ by Tony Cross
Forest of Bowland RSPB website



2016 Curlew Country Arts Project

Mary Colwell-Hector with sculptor, Bill Sample

Mary Colwell-Hector with sculptor, Bill Sample

This was inspired by Mary Colwell-Hector’s ‘Curlew Walk’. Mary walked from the west coast of Ireland to The Wash on the east coast England to raise awareness and funds for curlews. Mary joined our Curlew Country activities as she walked through the Shropshire Hills over the weekend of 14th & 15th May 2016.

Follow the links below to see footage from the final event at Norbury on 9th July, which include especially composed pieces sung by the Curlew Country Choir, and The Severn Whistlers, sculpture by Bill Sample.

Celebrating Curlews –

The Arts Project helped to raise awareness of the plight of local curlews and highlight the work being done by the Curlew Recovery Project to try and halt this drastic decline. Music, words, sculpture and photography were part of the mix to help people get involved and find out more about the threats to local curlew population.

Willow workshopThe Curlew Country Arts Project was co-ordinated by wildlife photographer Ben Osborne. He worked with sculptor, Bill Sample, composer and choir-leader, Mary Keith, and author and poet, Karen Lloyd.  It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Where have all the curlews gone? This question was posed by writer, Karen Lloyd, in her Guardian Country Diary entry on 13th June 2016.


To read the diary entry follow link below:

Mary CH talking to choirMary Keith and Karen Lloyd talk about the project with Radio Shropshire.  To hear this and the Curlew Country Choir during their first session follow the link – (1:22:40 into the programme).

More information can be found on the Facebook page




Live locally and love birds, you can help by

  • SUPPORT our Curlew Public Appeal by donating 
  • send a cheque, payable to Ground-nesting Birds Recovery Group, to Stiperstones & Corndon LPS, 3 Shepherd’s Yard, Chirbury, Shropshire, SY15 6BH
  • or Bank Transfer: HSBC ,Welshpool sort code 40-46-07 a/c no. 21568655.
  • Recording bird behaviour and nest sites.  Three local Community Wildlife Groups carry out annual surveys according to BTO methodology. This helps to establish local population numbers, their nesting and foraging territories.  Volunteer help is needed to watch the birds’ behaviour and help establish the whereabouts of nesting sites.  To get involved please contact Community Officer, Joe Penfold, 01938 561741 or email
  • Let us know if you spot curlews during the nesting season.  We will record your information to build up a record of foraging and nesting territories. Follow link to record your sightings online or contact Amanda Perkins, Countryside Officer, 01938 561741 or email


curlew juvenile foraging

Curlew by Tony Cross


Farmers and Land Managers can help by…

  • If you have curlews on your land and would like to help them breed successfully, please let us know so that we can include them in the sites that are monitored.
  • If you spot curlews on your land and elsewhere, let us know so that we can keep a good record of foraging and nesting territories.  Follow link to record your sightings online or contact Amanda Perkins, Countryside Officer, 01938 561741 or email
  • We are keen to trial electic fencing used in wader projects elsewhere to protect nest sites.  If you’re willing to to host a trial plot please get in touch.  You would be compensated for loss of crop.
  • In some circumstances there are costs associated with supporting ground nesting birds on your land. We want to establish what the true costs to local farmers are and would like to carry out a confidential analysis of the cost of managing curlew nesting and foraging land on different types of farms.  This information can then be made available to Natural England to take into account when considering agri-environmental schemes.
  • Nest protection will be essential for a number of years. This year we will be talking with a number of farmers about nest protection in the key area. This is most likely to be carried out by a trained predation control expert under contract. It is important that any control is effective, humane and safe. There will be opportunities after the nesting season to learn more or get involved with this work.
  • Some farming operations can cause problems for curlews, for further information on how to mitigate disturbance to ground nesting birds please see Project Resources’ below or contact us for hard copies to be sent to you.


Project resources – Download the following information, which includes practical advice for farmers, land managers and contracts, to help protect ground-nesting birds:


Project Funding

The project has developed substantially, from the profile that was intended when the Landscape Partnership Scheme was set up. We are very grateful to the following contributors who have helped fund the Curlew Recovery Project over the last two years.

2016 Welsh area project funded by:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Powys County Council

2016 English area project funded by:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Jean Jackson Trust – Donation of half estimated project costs for 2016/7
  • RSPB – loan of specialist cameras, provision of thermacrons
  • Shropshire Ornithological Society – Donation of £2,500
  • Upper Onny Wildlife Group – Radio tags for curlew chicks and assistance with colour ringing work carried out by Field Ornithologist
  • Public Appeal donations


2015 Welsh area project funded by:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Powys County Council

2015 English area project funded by:

  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • National Trust
  • Natural England
  • RSPB – loan of specialist cameras, provision of thermacrons
  • Shropshire Ornithological Society – Purchase of additional cameras for loan
  • Leo Smith – waiver of fees for consultancy work
  • Shropshire Hills AONB Conservation Fund
  • Upper Onny Wildlife Group


Project Advisory Group

  • Amanda Perkins, Project Manager
  •  Tony Cross, Field Ornithologist
  • Simon Cooter, Natural England
  • Dave Cragg, Natural England
  • Peter Carty, National Trust
  • Roger Draycott, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, attending meetings when needed

For more information please contact Amanda Perkins, 01938 561741 or email