Our Community Wildlife Group was set up in March 2018 to survey for Lapwing and Curlew in an area extending from Oswestry in the north to Kinnerley in the south, and eastward from the Welsh border to Ruyton-XI-Towns: from the Tanat to the Perry.
Our study area totals 172 square kilometres: a lot of ground to cover! It is divided into 43 survey squares, or ‘tetrads’, each comprising 2km x 2km on the Ordnance Survey National Grid. Each surveyor takes on one tetrad, or more if they wish.
Below is a map showing our study area and its constituent tetrads:
Curlew & Lapwing survey
The aim of the survey is to establish where, and how many, pairs of each species remain in our study area so that we can work with farmers and landowners to try to reverse their decline.
The survey is straightforward and requires only three visits between the end of March and mid June. Anyone who is interested in birds can take part: you don’t need to be an expert! Simple survey instructions and recording forms are provided and there is a practical fieldwork training session for anyone who feels that it would be helpful.
As well as the two main target species, participants can record up to 22 other species of farmland birds of conservation interest; however, this is an optional extra for confident birders. The primary objective is to find Curlews and Lapwings, so if that’s what you want to do, please join in!
Fieldwork in 2021
Fieldwork for the 2020 season was paused in response to the March Covid-19 lockdown and resumed in mid-May. Although unable to conduct a full survey, we gathered enough data to make credible estimates of the number of breeding pairs of Curlew and Lapwing in our study area and saw a welcome increase in the number of records for Kestrel, Cuckoo and – in particular – Red Kite. Thank you to everyone who surveyed a tetrad or contributed casual records.
We do now have some ground to make up and urgently need more volunteers to help with this year’s survey. If you would like to get involved, please contact us – details at the top of the page.
For further information about the survey, click here.
Survey results to date
Over 70 volunteers took part in our first year’s fieldwork and covered all our tetrads. Their observations, complemented by dozens of casual records, enabled us to estimate that our study area held 12 to 15 breeding pairs of Curlew and 42 to 47 pairs of Lapwing in 2018. A report, describing the survey and our findings in greater detail, can be downloaded here.
The 2019 survey revealed an estimated 15 to 19 pairs of Curlew and 42 to 51 pairs of Lapwing, slightly more than in the previous year – we are getting better at finding them! The full report for 2019 is available here.
With survey effort constrained by coronavirus in 2020, we found fewer breeding pairs of Curlew and Lapwing than in 2019; however, sightings of Red Kite increased. Full results for 2020 can be found here.
‘Save our Curlews’ Campaign
Our results feed into the county-wide ‘Save our Curlews’ campaign, along with those from 10 other Shropshire Community Wildlife Groups.
The campaign is led and funded by Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS). For full details – or to contribute to the appeal to help fund this work – follow this link to the SOS website.
For the time being we want to concentrate on our Curlew and Lapwing study; however, many members are interested in other forms of wildlife and we may start new projects in future.
Any proposed new projects would need to attract sufficient support from our members to be viable and we would not wish to duplicate, or compete with, surveys and activities organised by other groups.
In the meantime, we have produced a leaflet, ‘Time for Wildlife in North-west Shropshire’, summarising existing opportunities to volunteer for wildlife in our area and learn about natural history through talks and field trips. Please click here for a copy.