The official productivity figures are now in from our five project areas around the UK after the 2023 Curlew breeding season.
Our ultimate measure of success is whether the Curlews fledged enough chicks to maintain a stable population – each pair fledging one chick every other year.
The data, analysed by colleagues in the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, shows a resounding yes for our Antrim Plateau project area in Northern Ireland and at RSPB Geltsdale nature reserve in northern England. In fact, it’s been exceeded for the third year in a row at our Antrim site, which would indicate that the Curlew population there isn’t just stable but is growing. It’s possible we met or even exceeded the productivity target at Hadrian’s Wall in northern England as well, given the minimum and maximum figures from our data analysis for the area.
Meanwhile, our productivity score at Ysbyty Ifan & Hiraethog was well over half way to the target. Unfortunately, we didn’t confirm any chicks surviving through to fledging at our project area around the shores of Upper Lough Erne, although the good news is there were 8 pairs of Curlews using the site.
The challenging nature of monitoring the birds at RSPB Lower Lough Erne Islands reserve and at RSPB Insh Marshes nature reserve means we can’t reliably produce productivity scores for those areas. However, our monitoring shows that these areas have our highest abundances of Curlew pairs.
Overall, through our monitoring and radio tagging, we estimate that more than one hundred chicks fledged across our areas this year – a great result at a time when every chick counts.
All in all, we’re making progress but it does show how incredibly difficult it is to turn around the decline in Curlew numbers, given the range of challenges they face. There’s a long way to go and it’s going to take everyone pulling together for the long haul to help stabilise and ultimately grow their populations.
It was also a successful season in many other ways – from our engagement with the wider public through to partnership working. Read more in our review of the year >