Birdwatch Ireland is again urgently appealing for records from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan of the now rare and endangered Curlew. A large brown ground nesting bird with a distinctive long down-curved bill, Curlew breed mostly on bogs and rushy pastures. Once common throughout the north and west of Ireland, indications are that the species is on the verge of extinction in the country.
Dr Anita Donaghy, Senior Conservation Officer with BirdWatch Ireland says that loss of habitat is likely to be the main reason. “The open moorland and rough pastures where Curlew used to breed have become fragmented by land use change,” she said.
“We are carrying out a survey of Counties Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan this year, with the help of dedicated BirdWatch Ireland volunteers, in the hope of finding any remaining pairs. We are also appealing to anyone who may know of a breeding pair in these areas, to contact us. At this time of year, they are just starting to nest and the pair will be quite obvious, displaying over moorland or farmland and making their distinctive bubbling call as they circle their territories.”
BirdWatch Ireland is working with its partner organisation in Northern Ireland, RSPB, on a project to protect Curlew and other farmland birds. Called Halting Environmental Loss, or HELP, it is funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the INTERREG IVA program.
Christopher Ramsey, Curlew Fieldworker for BirdWatch Ireland based in Letterkenny, added “We are already working with farmers to help protect some pairs we have found in the last two years. Grants may be available to farmers with breeding Curlew willing to enter into agreements with us to protect them.”
Christopher is asking people to phone him with any records of breeding pairs from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim or Monaghan on 087 393 6962 or to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Records can also be submitted via the Cry of the Curlew page of the BirdWatch Ireland website (www.birdwatchireland.ie), where you can also listen to the bird’s distinctive bubbling call.