I ddarllen y blog yma yn y Gymraeg, cliciwch yma os gwelwch yn dda.
Curlews were once widespread across the farming landscape, often found in hay meadows and rushy pastures. However, their range has contracted and their numbers have declined by 50% from 1970-2009 leaving just 1000 pairs in Wales. Curlew nesting densities are now highest where moorland and enclosed farmland meet, as the farmland can provide good foraging opportunities whilst the moorland provides good nesting sites.
Curlew - Andy Hay, rspb-images.com
My last blog referred to the Migneint and the area which is home to, and managed for, golden plovers. Another area of the Migneint is home to numerous pairs of curlews. But we want more! Curlews live for around 30 years and are remarkably site-faithful, so you will often see the same pairs returning each year. A pair only needs to rear one chick to adulthood for the population to be maintained. But sadly, curlews are declining at an alarming rate, so protecting this species and helping it thrive is really important work. To enable everyone to do this we are working with landowners and partners across the UK to determine the best practical way to tackle the main causes of these declines - primarily of a lack of suitable habitat but also the impact of general predators who seem to thrive in the landscapes we have created.
12 farmers work the land where the curlews breed, and all have been very co-operative in letting us monitor the birds and the habitat before recommending areas for management. This has involved mowing areas of dense rush to create varied vegetation height, with tall bits for curlews to hide and nest in, and short bits to feed in. I imagine curlews don’t like being poked in the eye by a spiky piece of rush whilst looking for earthworms, leatherjackets, beetles, spiders and caterpillars!
Why working with upland farmers is so important for nature
Rush is mostly unpalatable to livestock, although the juicier, younger shoots are quite tasty. Therefore we are hoping that the sheep will be drawn to the mown areas which will help keep them short. Mowing large areas is obviously an expensive, time consuming and unsustainable way of managing habitat. This is where working with the farmers is so important. Over 80% of Wales’s land is managed by farmers, which means they are right at the heart of saving nature in Wales. Without them on side to back up our work with appropriate grazing, we would not be able to achieve as much as we do. Without their skills, expertise, and generosity, we wouldn’t be able to work together to bring back and protect homes for special Welsh wildlife.
Mowing of dense rush for Curlews. Image: Rhian Pierce
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