Saving Curlews at Ysbyty Ifan and Hiraethog

The Welsh Project Area straddles the upper Conwy Valley and the remote moors to the east of the A5 known as Hiraethog. The site comprises of a mix of farmland, upland moorland, blanket bog and ffridd habitats. The area attracts a range of birdlife including waders, raptors and song birds.

The north Wales moors landscape supports the largest breeding population in Wales, 38 – 47 breeding pairs equating to roughly 10% of the countries breeding population. The 'State of Birds in Wales 2018' report indicated that “more than three quarters of the Welsh curlew population has disappeared over the last 25 years, with no hint of this trend levelling out”.

The project will work with the local farming community to deliver a range of activities including monitoring the existing curlew population and improving habitat for curlew through the creation of wet areas, rush cutting and controlled grazing. Another important component will be engaging with the communities to spread enthusiasm and passion for curlew conservation in the area and secure the future of curlew long-term.

Curlew Chasing Red Kite Wales by Tony Pope
Curlew chasing red kite Wales
Photo by Tony Pope

Why this project matters.
A look at the stats.

If things don’t improve for curlew in Wales, they are predicted to go extinct in Wales by 2033.

decline of curlew in Wales
minimum number of pairs the Ysbyty Ifan and Hiraethog project area supports (up to 10% of the Welsh breeding population)
area over which we will provide advice and deliver action for curlew

Image gallery

Project successes

8 July 2024

First two fledglings spotted in the air

19 April 2024

1st nest found

Breeding season 2023

Minimum of 11 chicks fledged. Read more >

Summer 2023

We found 17 nests this year and used temporary electric fencing to help protect 15 of them. We also radio tagged and tracked Curlew chicks, to follow their progress and fledging rates. 

March 2023

Emily Hewison joined as our new project officer for Curlew LIFE, with her predecessor Lucy Foster stepping into the role of conservation officer for the site.

Spring 2023

We recruited and trained this year's volunteers, with around 30 people helping us to find nests and monitor Curlew breeding success.

Winter 2022-23

Building on last winter's habitat works, this year we created more wet pools (scrapes) and continued with blocking ditches to create wet areas for foraging. We also continued our programme of scrub removal, rush/gorse cutting and grazing. 

June 2022

We had 2 parliamentary visits this month. The Wales parliamentary champion for Curlew, Member of the Senedd Mark Isherwood, visited us for the second time. We also welcomed Senedd Member Llyr Gruffydd.

Summer 2022

Our stall at agricultural shows in Wales engaged with the public about the plight of Curlew and how we're helping them.

Spring & summer 2022

We used music to inspire a love of Curlews among local children with a music project carried out with local schools (see video below).

Spring & summer 2022

We found and monitored 23 nests, with 11 fledged chicks confirmed.

Jan-Mar 2022

We recruited and trained volunteers to help monitor Curlew breeding across our project area.

Winter 2021-22

Lots of works carried out this winter to improve the breeding habitat for Curlews. They included creating wet pools (scrapes) and blocking ditches to create good foraging ground for Curlews, along with scrub removal, rush/gorse cutting and grazing. 

Oct 2021

Member of the Senedd Mark Isherwood visited our project area. Mr Isherwood is the Curlew parliamentary champion for Wales. 

Oct 2021

Two sessions held for students of countryside management and agriculture, at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi.

Spring & summer 2022

We identified 24 pairs of Curlews but most did not succeed in nesting. We confirmed 2 fledged chicks.

June 2021

We found our first chicks of the year on the 2nd

February 2021

Project Officer Lucy Foster starts

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.