Lapwing and Curlew have both suffered a massive contraction in range and population decline in the last 20 years or so, nationally and locally. Curlew has been described as the UK’s highest bird conservation priority, as we have an estimated 28% of the European breeding population, and 19 – 27% of the world population.
The Annual Public Meeting in March 2017 agreed to conduct a Lapwing and Curlew survey to complement similar surveys carried out by other Community Wildlife Groups in different parts of the Shropshire Hills. The AGM of the Church Stretton Branch of the Shropshire Ornithological Society also agreed to support the survey.
An area was selected where these species were found breeding in the 2008-13 Shropshire Bird Atlas, comprising 30 2×2 kilometre squares on the Ordnance Survey National Grid, known as “tetrads”.
A well-publicised planning meeting to explain the project and the reasons for it, and recruit surveyors, was held on 15 March 2017. Surveyors were recruited for each of the 30 squares, and were asked to make three visits, around 1 April, 1 May and mid-June, at times convenient to them, with visits concentrating on habitats where the species might be found, and lasting around three hours each. The surveys were conducted from Public Rights of Way, unless individual surveyors obtained landowners permission to leave them. Survey maps and recording instructions were supplied. A practical fieldwork training meeting was held for those that wanted one.
The aim was to locate the territories of breeding pairs, and record behaviour, to estimate the population. No attempt was made to locate nests. Although the survey concentrated on the two main target species, and their habitats, surveyors were asked to also record on their maps any of 20 other target species seen. The project was a success, and it is intended to repeat it every year for the foreseeable future, to monitor population trends, productivity, and habitats used locally.
The yearly reports to date can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the following links and are summarised below.
In 2017, the Curlew population in the area was estimated at definitely 5 breeding pairs, probably 6, possibly 7 and perhaps more.
The Lapwing population was estimated at 8 – 9 pairs, perhaps more.
In 2018, the process of recruiting, briefing and training new recruits as necessary was repeated. The surveys resulted in population estimates as follows:
- Curlew – definitely 6 pairs, probably 7, possibly 8 and perhaps more.
- Lapwing – 8 or 9 pairs, perhaps more
In 2019, the process of recruiting, briefing and training new recruits as necessary was repeated. The surveys resulted in population estimates as follows:
- Curlew – definitely 5 pairs, probably 6 or 7 and possibly 8
- Lapwing: 5 – 7 pairs
Plans for 2020
The Group plans to repeat the Bird Survey in 2020. New participants are needed, so we hope to recruit new members. A leaflet with information on the 2020 project is available here (PDF).
A meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 17th March 2020 at the Methodist Church Hall, Watling Street, Church Stretton will be given a presentation of the 2019 results in this report, and also plan the 2020 survey. Everyone interested in birds is welcome to participate. You too can play an active part in this important and interesting survey.
If you are interested in taking part, please contact the Project Leader, Leo Smith.
Page updated: 24/03/2019 by JGNB