Whinchat Monitoring - Long Mynd, Shropshire

Our ornithologists have been working on the National Trust owned Long Mynd (Shropshire) over the last three weeks, finding and monitoring Whinchat Saxicola rubetra nests. A total of ten nests have been found to date, within which monitoring equipment has been installed to evaluate breeding success.

Unfortunately two of these nests failed early, although hopefully these birds will relay. Eight active nests remain, seven of which hold six eggs with the first chicks present on 4 June. All chicks will be colour ringed, details of which will be provided here.

Fingers crossed for a successful breeding season.

Whinchat Monitoring and Research Project - Shropshire

In the UK the Whinchat Saxicola rubetra population has declined by 53%, and 44% in England, in only 21 years (1995 and 2016). It is now localised within England, occurring in northern uplands and in pockets in the south, such as Salisbury Plain and the south-west. This severe decline in the breeding population saw the Whinchat move from the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern to the Red List in 2015.

During the 2019 breeding season BiOME are working on a Whinchat research project on the Long Mynd, Shropshire where the national population decline has been mirrored. This projects’ aim is to not only discover the reasons for the local decline, but also to be involved in developing ways of reversing it.

Nests will be found and birds colour-ringed; following which breeding success will be assessed and reasons for failure determined (when possible). Data in relation to habitat use will also be collected and assessed.

The colour-ring combination on each bird is unique, ensuring that individuals can be identified in the field. The proportion returning each following year will give an indication of longevity, and mortality rates.

The results of this research will be published here.

If you require any ornithological support please contact Martyn Owen (martyn@biomeconsulting.com)

Curlew Nest Monitoring in Shropshire

During 2019 we are involved with a number of Curlew monitoring projects. Following nest finding, the nest will be protected from mammalian predators using electric fences, juveniles ringed and fitted with radio transmitters. The progress of these young birds will then be tracked, including the assessment of habitat use.

A project in Shropshire has recently launched a live feed of a Curlew nest, which can be viewed at the below link. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome.


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Curlew Survey and Nest Monitoring - Shropshire

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:

Upper Clun

Clee Hill