This year’s report from the Curlew Conservation Programme (CCP) shows that mature breeding pairs reared 25 young birds this year.
Curlews were once a common sight and sound among the fields of Ireland, but modern farming practices saw a drastic drop in their numbers and the bird population has decreased by 97% since the 1980s.
A huge conservation effort from the National Parks and Wildlife Service team, the Department of Culture and Heritage and stakeholders, including farmers and landowners, has resulted in good news, with a breeding productivity of 0.60 fledglings/breeding pair this year - which is above the threshold proposed as necessary to maintain a stable population.
However, there was some disappointment as the percentage of confirmed pairs progressing to chick stage and the percentage of pairs fledging chicks and the overall number of chicks confirmed as fledged was reduced compared with 2019, and the reasons behind this decrease aren’t fully understood.
“This is particularly difficult for the local curlew action teams and CCP management and local landowners, who invested so much time and effort to safeguard the chicks, following them on a daily basis from egg stage through to near fledged,” the report said.
Minister of State for heritage and electoral reform Malcolm Noonan said it was an important time to work together to save the curlew or else this could be the last generation to hear its distinctive call.
As part of the launch of this year’s report, specially-made curlew willow structures created by Donegal artist Brendan Farren were unveiled in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.
Records of Curlew throughout the breeding season (March to July) can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.