If you enjoy seeing Curlew and Lapwing, and would like to do something to help stop their disappearance from the local countryside, we would like your help, please.

We need to know how many breeding pairs there are, and where, before we can try and help them.

The group is centred on the open hill land of Titterstone Clee, and Clee Hill and Catherton Commons, extending approximately as far as Knowlegate and Knowbury to the south, Bitterley to the west, Cleedownton and Bromdon to the north, and Doddington to the east. The bird survey has been carried out every year since 2012, and we are doing it again this year.

People who have helped previously will be asked to help again, but new helpers will be very welcome, please.

The Curlew results in 2023 were the most encouraging for some years: 7 – 8 pairs were found in the original area, one more than last year, and two more in the extension. Three nests were found, one a relay by the same pair, but although all three of those nests were predated, a chick fledged from each of two other nests, one on Magpie Hill and one near Coreley. This is great news, the first fledged young for some years!!! A distribution map can be found on our website. Let us know if you know of any other pairs, please.For other species, there were 2 – 3 pairs of Lapwing: at Hollywaste, the only known site since 2017, and 8-9 pairs of Kestrel: Clee Hill is a county hotspot, and we are supporting a nest box and ringing project. Five nests were found. At least two Cuckoo territories were located, but there must be more, and there were more Barn Owl: sightings than for many years. There were probably 3 pairs, and one nest was found with 3 fledged young. Two Red Kite nests were also found, in the same places as last year. A full report for 2023 is being prepared.

If you can recognise Lapwing and Curlew (and preferably their calls), you can make an important contribution to our work. If possible, we would also like you to record Kestrel, Cuckoo, and other target species, but that’s an optional extra.

The survey is easy to do, and only involves three 3-hour visits between the beginning of April and mid-June. Simple instructions and a map to record your observations are provided, and there will be an outdoor training session if you want to come.

Whether you join in or not, please let us know if you see Curlew, Lapwing or Kestrel anywhere in the area.

Our survey contributes to the Curlew monitoring carried out across Shropshire, by 10 Community Wildlife Groups altogether. You can read about this, and the work of the Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS) Save our Curlews project on the SOS website www.shropshirebirds.com/save-our-curlews/. This describes the results in detail, our future plans, and the overwhelming evidence that predation by foxes and other predators is the main cause of Curlew’s continuing decline. It is clear that the annual release of millions of pheasants for shooting, only a third of which are actually shot, results in an over-abundant food supply which maintains the numbers of the Curlew’s main predators well above naturally sustainable levels.

We still need to monitor the local Curlew population, and check all the pairs we do find, to see if they produce young, and if any fledge, so if you can do so, please help..

A Bird Group meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 18 March, at the Recreation Rooms, 22A, Clee Hill High Street,to present the results of our work in previous years, and plans for 2024. All welcome!!!

You can find more information about how to report a Curlew, Lapwing or Kestrel, arrangements for the public meeting on 18 March,
on our website www.shropscwgs.org.uk/ or contact Chris Bargman  01299 270514, email: chcwg@shropscwgs.org.uk