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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Event devoted to saving endangered curlews planned for Town Hall

Three internationally-acclaimed experts are to speak at a meeting in Llangollen Town Hall on April 10 on the theme of saving the UK’s endangered curlew population.

The celebration event, which is free to attend, has been organised by wardens from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to draw attention to what one of them, Rhun Jones, describes as a “catastrophic” decline in the species over the past couple of decades.

It will be the culmination of a day devoted to crafting and guided walks. 

Rhun said: “We have lost 80 per cent of the birds in less than 20 years. There are now only about 400 left and we are losing them at the rate of six per cent a year.

“There’s a variety of reasons for the loss, including development, fragmentation of habitat, predators and possibly also global warming.”

The problem will be addressed at the Town Hall meeting later this month by the three experts, including Mary Colwell, the founder and director of Curlew Action who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the plight of the species, conservationist David Elias, author of the book Shaping the Wild, and Dr Rachel Taylor, senior ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology.

“We are very lucky to have three such eminent experts joining us for the event in Llangollen, which will also feature entertainment from the male voice choir Cor Meibion Bro Glyndwr and also, we hope, some poetry readings on the theme of saving the curlew,” added Rhun.

* One of the electrified fences is set up to protect a curlew nesting area.

He explained that the local AONB was closely involved with Curlew Connections Wales, a two-year conservation project funded to the tune of £1 million by the Welsh Government, which was concentrating of three particular areas of the country where the species is most at risk of extinction.

One of these – along with Montgomery and the Brecon Beacons, is the South Clwydian Mountains where the AONB is co-ordinating the work of a band of around 15 dedicated volunteers to identify likely curlew habitats.

Once a nesting site has been pinpointed, working in close co-operation with local farmers, electrified fences of about 3ft high are set up around them to protect chicks by warding off ground predators such as badgers, although they remain vulnerable from airborne attack from the likes of crows.

If the chicks can be protected in this way for the first crucial few days there is a much greater chance that they will survive into adulthood.  

This work, which is going on during the current nesting season from now until July, and much more will be highlighted at the Town Hall meeting on April 10, where doors open at 6.30pm ready for a 6.45pm start.  

* More info on the Curlew Recovery Plans can be found on this website.

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