A group of landowners and birders in Herefordshire are recording where curlew are spotted on passage and attempted breeding sites in the County as part of the Lowland Curlew Forum http://www.curlewcall.org and http://curlewcountry.org.
They are focussing on sites in and around Lower Lugg Meadows, Sink Green, Hampton Meadows, St. Margarets, Vagar Hill, Walterstone, Craswall, Eaton Bishop and Allensmore.
If you can help with surveys or know of curlew in any other places please contact Chris Robinson Herefordshire BTO rep who is working together with Herefordshire Ornithology Club and use this Curlew reporting format.
If you would like to volunteer to host a get together of curlew site owners to share best practice and discuss the challenges of managing for curlews please contact Caroline Hanks
Some notes to help spotting curlew:
- Ideal to start looking for Curlews now. At this time of year they may be found in groups away from their intended breeding sites in good feeding areas (see note on early Herefordshire records below). These may be passage birds or ones returning to this area to breed or both. Mike’s observation is that passage birds look alert, keep together and concentrate on feeding.
- Curlews are very faithful to their nest sites and unless previously unsuccessful or thwarted by agricultural change will usually nest in the same place year after year.
- On flower rich meadows they may avoid the very best vegetation to nest in an area of shorter growth.
- Very difficult to find nests after about 10th May due to vegetation growth.
- Sexes difficult to tell apart (see guidebooks) but Mike’s suggestion is that males have a steeper forehead. Their shorter bill should be obvious (can be as much as 5cm shorter) but unless they are side by side very hard to tell.
- At this time of year no “bubbling” call.
- Fledging can continue well into July. Often does not fit with guidelines of agri-environment schemes – need to encourage landowners not to cut. But there is conflict between optimum date for plantlife vs birds vs quality hay!
- Can tell if young are present by distinctive ‘wulp’ call of adult.
- Bird flying up without calling may be a female coming off nest.