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Friday, 1 April 2016

Curlew numbers give Wensleydale bird enthusiasts encouragement

Wensleydale's curlew population appears to be bucking the trend, according to local bird enthusiasts.

Bird ringing for identification gets under way.
The Eurasian curlew is classified as near threatened globally and, according to the British Trust for Ornithology, it is “the most pressing bird conservation priority in the UK.”

However, more than 600 of the birds are seen regularly over winter in the washland meadows in Wensleydale.

Many of the species breed on the moors and moor edge during the summer, where their ability to rear young to fledging is heavily reliant on gamekeepers controlling predators such as crows, stoats and foxes.

Experts say that two other species of curlew, Eskimo and Slender-billed, have almost certainly become extinct in the past 50 years and it would be heart-breaking for the same to happen to this iconic upland bird.

Although the local group is not part of a larger conservation charity, the dozen people who have been involved so far are members of a range of conservation organisations.

COLOUR COMBINATIONS
A total of 42 birds have been marked with white leg rings on the lower left leg and have individual colour combinations above. Anyone who sees these ringed birds are asked to notify Robin Ward with a photograph at rmward1963@btinternet.com

The group warns that the birds must not be disturbed during the breeding season so should be observed from a distance.

More work is planned for spring and summer, with bye grassland wader surveys, nest monitoring and, the group hopes, colour marking some chicks.

BBC presenter and environmental journalist Mary Colwell visited Wensleydale to see the curlew and returns this Friday (8 April), when she will give a talk about her forthcoming 500 mile walk which aims to raise funds and awareness for this beautiful bird.

The talk and a barbeque will be held at the West Bolton Moor lunch hut, near Carperby and tickets are £20, which will go to the BTO Curlew Appeal and can be obtained by emailing: tom@boltoncastle.co.uk.

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