On 25th June, BBC4 Farming Today‘s show about Controlling Mountain Hares in Scotland, Fenland farm report and Curlews featured a whole section about Curlew conservation in Wales and an interview of our very own Nick Myhill, farmer and conservation expert, working with Powys Moorland Partnership amongst other initiatives to protect the curlews through a range of actions, from habitat improvement to predator control. Listen to the show online.
The curlew’s population has dropped by 80% over the last 30 years with only about 50 000 pairs left nesting, among which 300 or 400 hundreds are located in Wales. RSPB Cymru suggests that farmer practices might be partly to blame. Nick Myhill explains that the modern agricultural practices are partly responsible for different reasons, but they’re not the only reason for that drop in numbers. A hundred years ago, the curlews would stay on the Moor where it lived the rest of the year to nest. Since then, potentially to escape predators or the public, they have started to move to hay fields. Modern agriculture has replaced hay-making by sillage, which is a much faster process that happens earlier in the year. The curlew needs effectively two months of peace in a mowing field, the four first weeks to incubate and the five after that for the chicks to be able to move around on the ground.
Huw Jones is one of the local farmers involved in the program to protect the curlews. His advice is for people to work together and be aware of the curlews, avoiding any topping and mowing while the birds nest in the fields. Huw also suggests that the structuring of farming could be partly responsible because costs of production have been going up so that farming entreprises might not have been as proactive as they used to be. But there is hope, if people are looking to be more sensible and work together.
Header photo by Jason Thompson.