It’s been a busy few months in Wales. We’ve been undertaking a range of habitat management works to improve habitats for our breeding curlew.
We’ve selected areas where curlew already breed but have not successfully fledged young. The aim is to improve these areas for breeding – providing more favourable places to nest, areas for chicks to forage, and reduce cover for predators, like dense scrub, plantation woodland and shelter belts. We have also created a 2.5 km permanent predator proof fence around our most productive curlew area. This is a 1.6m high fence buried beneath the ground with electrified wires on the top. The area includes breeding habitat which supports 6-10 pairs of curlew and 15+ pairs of lapwing.
Unfortunately, in 2021 only one curlew chick successfully fledged from this area. This is way below the productivity required to have a sustainable curlew population. Fencing is a non-lethal way to protect curlew eggs and chicks from predators like foxes. Within the permanent fenced area, we have improved the habitat for breeding curlew by digging scrapes (shallow water features for chicks to feed) and rush cutting to increase habitat diversity. The fencing is wide enough mesh to allow chicks to leave the fenced area, but we hope by improving the habitat they will not need to leave until they have fledged.
We have used a local fencing contractor; it’s been amazing to see the progress and enthusiasm of the team who managed to install the fence within two weeks! The fenced area includes three different landowners who were all consulted and kindly allowed us to install the fence. All the farmers are enthusiastic about the curlews and excited to see the outcome of the work (increased productivity fingers crossed)!
Ysbyty Ifan and Hiraethog Project Officer