Thanks to the support of participating farmers and an amazing new team of volunteers, the RSPB Geltsdale and Hadrian’s Wall project team have now completed the first year of a four-year monitoring programme. This will provide important information about the curlew population in the area and the habitat they need to thrive.  Attention is now turned to the next phase of the project – to support and deliver schemes which improve and expand areas of suitable curlew habitat, giving them a better chance to breed successfully. 

Project Officer, Christina Taylor, lives in the Tyne Valley, close to Hadrian’s Wall. “It never ceases to give me a thrill to hear the first curlew of the year, especially knowing how increasingly rare that is. I feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with farmers and land managers to support curlew conservation in the area where I live.”

“Through land management techniques farmers can provide ideal habitat conditions for curlews in time for them start breeding in early April and help protect nests and chicks by avoiding or reducing stock and machinery movements until the end of the breeding season.  These measures combined will increase the chance of curlews breeding successfully.”

Curlews use a variety of fields on the farm such as hay and silage meadows, rough pasture and moorland. Ideal breeding sites provide both nesting and feeding opportunities.  Curlew chicks are not fed by their parents so are reliant on finding their own food as soon as they hatch – mainly surface insects and spiders.  Having feeding areas close to their nest means that chicks avoid having to make potentially dangerous journeys to find food.

Grants are now available to help farmers who manage land in the project area (see map below) to carry out capital works to improve habitat conditions for curlews.  Rush cutting is carried out on many hill farms to create more grazing for sheep and cattle. This can also benefit curlews when the cutting is carried out to create large, open areas to feed in whilst leaving taller, denser patches for cover and nest sites.  Digging carefully placed shallow scrapes in the ground or blocking field drains, creates wet and muddy patches which helps to increase insect food abundance and availability.

Christina explains how to get in involved; “These are just two examples of really beneficial actions that can be funded through the project.  We would love for farmers to get in touch if they would like to find out whether they are eligible to receive the grants or if they simply want to learn how they can help curlews on their land.”

Map of eligible area for habitat work

Map of eligible area for habitat work

Christina Taylor
Project Officer (RSPB Geltsdale and Hadrian’s Wall)
Telephone:  07935 014924  Email: christina.taylor@rspb.org.uk.