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.
Together with the Church Stretton Branch of the Shropshire Ornithological Society, we have carried out a Lapwing and Curlew survey to complement similar surveys carried out by other Community Wildlife Groups in different parts of the Shropshire Hills.
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”.
Surveyors are 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 are conducted from Public Rights of Way, unless individual surveyors obtain landowners permission to leave them. Survey maps and recording instructions are supplied. A practical fieldwork training meeting is held for those that wanted one.
The aim is to locate the territories of breeding pairs, and record behaviour, to estimate the population. No attempt is made to locate nests. Although the survey concentrates on the two main target species, and their habitats, surveyors are asked to also record on their maps any of 20 other target species seen. We intend 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 below.
Plans for 2023
We need more helpers, please. If you can recognise Lapwing and Curlew (and preferably their calls), you can make an important contribution. For more details, click here to download the leaflet (PDF).
If you’re interested in helping, or want more information, email Leo Smith (email@example.com)
Photograph by John Harding