During summer 2018 our team of ornithological surveyors completed surveys to locate Curlew nests in two key breeding areas in Shropshire (the Upper Clun and Clee Hill), with subsequent nest monitoring.
The breeding population of Curlew in Shropshire is estimated to have declined by 77% in the last 20 years. Consequently, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shropshire Ornithological Society launched the ‘Save our Curlews’ campaign, in association with the Upper Clun Community Wildlife Group and Clee Hill Community Wildlife Group.
Once active nests were located, electric fences were erected to protect them from ground-based predators and the nests were monitored to determine success/productivity. Once hatched, chicks were ringed and radio-tags applied. Chicks were then monitored to assess survival rates.
In the Clee Hill monitoring area a total of three nests were located, with one further nest where the eggs had already been predated (or accidentally crushed by a vehicle). The electric fences were successful in protecting nests from predation. At least one, possibly two, juveniles fledged with the remaining juveniles predated soon after leaving the nest.
Three nests were also located in the Upper Clun monitoring area, all containing four eggs. Again, fence installation was successful in protecting nests from predation, however, it is thought that all juveniles were predated soon after leaving the nest.
One of the nests produced no viable young: two eggs failed to hatch, and two chicks had hatched but with congenital deformities of the legs and spine. A post-mortem suggested nutritional osteodystrophy, a rickets-like condition affecting bone formation; the chicks were also found to have enlarged fatty livers. The symptoms are typical of B-vitamin deficiency, probably reflecting the nutritional or health status of the female during egg formation.
Full details of this monitoring work are is available at: