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The Loss Of The Curlew

The Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) is on the edge of extinction in Ireland. This distinctive bird with a down curved beak has now been deemed one of Ireland’s highest conservation priorities. A survey by the National Parks and Wildlife Service reveals there are 150 breeding pairs in Ireland in 2015 & 2016. There were 5000 in 1980.

mary-curlew-1-lowres

Photograph by Rich Steele

The Curlew is a wading bird found in wetlands with particularly long legs and a curved beak. It’s colouring is greyish brown, with dark, grey and cream streaking all over. They feed on a range of invertebrates, including crabs and crustaceans. The remaining adults can be found in Kerry, Donegal, Monaghan and parts of Leitrim, where the nest specifically in bog areas or farmlands. Their reduction in numbers is attributed to loss of peatland habitats, along with agricultural intensification, drainage and afforestation.

curlew_breeding_distribution

While we do receive migrant birds from Northern Europe during the Winter, our own population is dwindling at rate that will result in extinction if preventative measures are not taken. BirdWatch Ireland is calling on the Irish Government to implement a structured plan to prevent further losses. Proposed measures include provision for Curlews in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS). This scheme provides grants for farmers who take measures to preserve rural land and implement environmentally favourable farming systems. There have been pressing calls from the National Association of Regional Game Councils and Countryside Alliance and BirdWatch Ireland to remove the Curlew from the Open Season Order hunting list, which have proved successful.

curlew1

Illustration by Adam Entwistle

A national workshop is being held on the 4th of November raise awareness by BirdWatch Ireland, UCD and writer and producer Mary Colwell (She walked 500 miles to raise funds and awareness for Curlews). They hold the hope of finding a solutions to preventing the decline in Curlew population. 

mary-curlew-2-lowres

Photograph by Rich Steele

You can help with the Curlews plight by donating funds to BirdWatch Ireland. Alternatively, if you find a breeding pair of Curlews, please email Anita Donaghy with details of the date, time and location. If you prefer, you can call 07491-29905 to report your sightings instead.

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Lorna

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