Saving Curlews at RSPB Insh Marshes

Flanked by the Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains in the Scottish Highlands, RSPB Insh Marshes encompasses a section of the river Spey floodplain.  As an internationally important wetland, the site supports several rare and protected species as well as a rich assemblage of breeding birds.

Insh Marshes holds an unusually high density of breeding curlew, making it one of the best sites in the whole of mainland Scotland to admire them and many other wader species. Long term predictions of curlew abundance also show the site will continue to be important as populations shift northwards in response to changes in climatic conditions.

Each year, the reserve management team ensures that the marsh is in prime condition for curlew returning to breed. This project will support improvements to nesting and foraging habitat for curlew as well as delivering increased monitoring to identify limiting factors, inform management and measure the impact of our activities. With the support from nearby communities, RSPB Insh Marshes can be an exemplanary site for curlew conservation and the perfect place to build a foundation for a sustainable population in the wider countryside of Scotland.

Loch on Coull Fen
Late summer floods, ideal for natural curlew habitat

Why this project matters.
A look at the stats.

RSPB Insh Marshes is one of the most important single sites for curlew in mainland Scotland.

decline in curlew population in Scotland since the mid-1990s
the area across which conservation action for curlew will be delivered
breeding pairs of curlew that the project will directly support at RSPB Insh Marshes

Image gallery

Project successes

August 2021

The first monitoring season is completed. Despite several spring floods, almost half of our pairs have hatched some of their eggs. Our future work will allow us to boost these numbers and inform us how many of the chicks are fledging.

April 2021

Start of the habitat monitoring on March 29th. 116 fields will be assessed for curlew suitability

March 2021

Topping and shrub management completed

February 2021

First curlew sighting of the year on Insh Marshes of February 9th by Reserve Warden Pete Moore

January 2021

Thijs Claes hired as the Curlew LIFE Project Officer for Insh Marshes

Video Gallery

Our partners

The Curlews in Crisis project is managed by the RSPB with generous support from the EU LIFE programme and the following project partners; Cairngorms Connect, Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme, Natural Resources Wales and NIEA-DAERA.

Cairngorms Connect is part of the Endangered Landscapes Programme, which is managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative in partnership with Arcadia - a charitable fund of Lisbet Rousing and Peter Baldwin.

Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by North Pennines AONB Partnership and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Additional funding has also been received from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.