Camlad Valley's

Curlew Surveys
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Bird Survey 2021

New helpers needed, please!

The Camlad Valley Community Wildlife Group has been monitoring local curlews, lapwings and other birds since 2014. We are planning on starting the 2021 survey at the end of March. We need more helpers, please, so if you have some time to spend monitoring the iconic birds in our area, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Although it is not currently possible for our volunteers to conduct the usual surveys, we can ill afford a total loss of data on their population and distribution in 2021. For example, there are probably now only 120 pairs of curlew left in the whole of the Shropshire, and only a handful more in the remaining Camlad Valley area that lies in Powys. We haven’t got long to save them from local extinction. Therefore, within the restrictions applicable during the coronavirus outbreak, we’d really like to know of any curlews and other target species you see or hear.

The main target species are lapwing and curlew. If you can recognise these two birds (and preferably their calls), you can make an important contribution.

The area covered by the Group can be seen on the map here. It is divided into squares, each of 2 x 2 kilometres. Participants take on one of these survey squares and visit three times, on whichever specific dates suit them, around 1st April, 1st May and 15th June. Each visit should take about half a day, so it doesn’t take much time. It’s easy to do, and participants are provided with simple survey instructions and a map to record sightings on. If possible we’d also like you to record kestrel, cuckoo and other target species, but that’s an optional extra.

In 2021 the survey will be conducted in accordance with whatever Government coronavirus restrictions are in place at the time, but as survey visits are usually made by people on their own, or by couples, and can be done as daily exercise, they are generally allowed. The Government Road Map for England, published on 22 February included several relaxations of the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, most importantly that the “stay at home” rule is likely to end on 29 March. At the time of writing, the Welsh Government has not committed to specific dates for specific rule relaxations, but the signs are quite optimistic in Wales too.

We normally hold a meeting in March to report back on the previous year’s results and explain what’s involved to new participants, but we won’t be able to do that this year. New helpers will instead be briefed by email. There will also be a practical (socially-distanced) training session, explaining how to go about the survey, and record what you see, in early April, if you feel you need it.

You can choose your own square, and do more than one if you want. However, we have to try and get all the squares covered, so it would be appreciated if you can be a bit flexible and tell me the rough area that you’d like to do, then let me choose the specific square for you.

You can find the survey report from 2020 here.

If you’re interested in helping, or want more information, please email me (leo@leo.smith.org.uk).

What else can you do?

  • Make a note of any curlews you see or hear from your home, or while out taking your permitted exercise.
  • Ask other people you are in contact with locally to let you know if they see or hear curlews.
  • If you have to go out, to buy food or medicine, take your binoculars in your car with you so that you can stop and scan places where you might expect to see curlews.

What information should you record?

All records should indicate the number of curlews seen, their behaviour (feeding, in flight, nesting, display – bubbling – call, agitated call, chasing off crows, buzzards, etc.), and date and place.  If you have binoculars and can check for colour-rings, please report those too.

What should I do with the information?

Send it by email to Leo Smith – leo@leosmith.org.uk – who oversees the local curlew surveys.

Above all, though…

Stick to the guidance and instructions issued by HM’s Government to limit the spread of Covid-19 and keep all of us safe and well.