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The Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership (NUCLNP) is supporting a campaign led by the RSPB to highlight the decline of the Curlew.

The Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership encompasses the Protected Landscapes of Northumberland National Park, North Pennines AONB, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB and the Forest of Bowland AONB. 

It also includes the extensive National Nature Reserves of Kielderhead and Whitelee Moor as well as Kielder Forest and Water, and the ‘Tyne gap’ between the North Pennines AONB and Northumberland National Park.

The curlew, the iconic large wading bird with a down-curved bill, has experienced a decline in the number of breeding pairs across the UK by nearly half since the mid-1990s.

It is thought the main reason for its decline is poor breeding success caused by the loss of damp, rough, grassy habitats where curlews like to nest, as well as predators including foxes and crows.  It is important to note that curlew abundance and breeding success across the Northern Upland Chain area is correlated with grouse moor predator control.

The UK is home to around a quarter of the world’s breeding curlew population and the RSPB aims to raise public awareness of the potential disappearance of this much-loved bird from its historic breeding areas through Curlew Crisis month during May.

David Hill, Chair of the Local Nature Partnership, explains: “Since numbers have declined all over the country many people are trying to work out the best ways of helping curlews. Groups such as the RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) are carrying out research.

“In recent years Protected Landscape bodies have been carrying out surveys to determine where curlews nest. At present they are found across open areas away from steep hillsides, woodlands and forestry plantations.  Across the NUCLNP area the Protected Landscape bodies are working with landowners to improve habitat management for curlew and other waders as well as developing a programme of measures to improve the conservation prospects for curlew and other breeding waders.”

“We are hoping to undertake further research next year which may involve looking at egg and chick survival at key locations in the Protected Landscapes. Raising public awareness of the Curlew’s decline through initiatives like RSPB’s Curlew Crisis Month helps to spread the word and encourage organisations and individuals to learn about this iconic bird and what we can do to protect it.”

The public can help by recording where they see curlews on the ERIC website at:  http://www.ericnortheast.org.uk/wildlife/.  Birdwatchers in Yorkshire are being asked to submit their records to BirdTrack https://app.bto.org/birdtrack/main/data-home.jsp.

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