Curlews and Lapwings, once a familiar sight, are vanishing from our countryside. In Shropshire, the breeding population of Curlew has fallen from approximately 700 pairs in 1990 to around 160 in 2010, and that of Lapwing from an estimated 3,000 pairs to only 800 over the same period; declines of 77% and 73% respectively.
What can be done? Firstly, it’s essential to establish where Curlews and Lapwings remain; then to work with landowners and farmers to attempt to reverse the decline. The Tanat to Perry Community Wildlife is treading this path and is about to begin the third year of its Lapwing and Curlew study. Last year’s fieldwork revealed an estimated 15 to 19 breeding pairs of Curlew and 42 to 51 pairs of Lapwing. This year the group aims to confirm the locations of the birds found in 2019 and find any that were missed – this is where you can help!
There are two ways to get involved, as group co-ordinator Claire Backshall explains: “We need fieldworkers to carry out a simple survey, which requires only three visits – around the beginning of April, early May and mid June – on dates to suit you. In addition, we’d like people to tell us about sightings of Lapwings and Curlews anywhere in our study area between March and July.” It’s not essential to be an expert birdwatcher to join in: Curlews and Lapwings are easy to identify and training is available for surveyors.
The study area extends from Oswestry in the north to Kinnerley in the south, and eastward from Nantmawr to Ruyton-XI-Towns. Data feeds into the county-wide ‘Save Our Curlews’ campaign, led jointly by Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shropshire Ornithological Society.
The group’s next meeting is at 7.30pm on Wednesday 4 March at Morda Social Club. Project co-ordinator Leo Smith will give a presentation about Curlews and Lapwings in Shropshire and set out plans for this year’s fieldwork. Whether you’re interested in becoming a surveyor or simply wish to learn more about these birds, you will be warmly welcomed. If you’d like to get involved but can’t make the meeting, please contact: Claire Backshall, Co-ordinator, Tanat to Perry Community Wildlife Group