The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and local farmers in Oxfordshire are celebrating the completion of a pilot project to protect an iconic, yet threatened wading bird.
The curlew, a threatened and secretive wading bird which makes its home in farmland across the Upper Thames River Valleys, is largest European wading bird.
It is often found on winter estuaries or in summer meadows, and recognisable by its long, down-curved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and evocative call.
Considered a rare bird – they are highly secretive, hiding their nests in long grass.
And according to surveys of wading birds across the Upper Thames River Valleys, spotting a curlew could get even harder, as breeding curlew have declined by 51% between 2005 and 2015, in line with the national trend.
The area still managed to attract more than 40 pairs over the last 10 years, making the river valleys of Oxfordshire one of the most important areas for this species in southern England.
Support of local farmers 'vital' to success
In April 2016, the RSPB was delighted to receive funding from through the Landfill Communities fund for a new pilot project to discover more about the breeding habits of this enigmatic bird, and the possible reasons behind its decline.
The support from local farmers was vital to the success of the project, as most curlew nesting sites are found on farmland.
Every week over the spring and early summer, volunteers visited farms and nature reserves where curlew were thought to live, gradually identifying the birds’ territories and recording their behaviour.