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Celebrating World Curlew Day

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Local farmers and Lough side residents are concerned about the disappearing sounds of the iconic Curlew breeding wader bird species that used to be a common sight on the shores of Lough Erne. Populations of curlew have declined dramatically by 82% since the mid 1980’s.  Unfortunately, the Curlew is on the red list of Irish birds and urgent measures are needed to ensure its survival as a local breeding species into the future. Curlew have a very distinctive sound which, captured by Sound Ark

Sound of Curlew on the shores of Lough Macnean

Curlews and other breeding wader species including snipe, lapwing and redshank breed on the shores of the loughs around Fermanagh and the wider locality including some islands and farm locations on Lough Erne and Lough MacNean. Curlews are wading birds, identifiable by their long down turned beak, brown markings, long legs and have a very distinctive call. Curlews nest from mid-April to mid-July and require a month to incubate their eggs, with chicks fledging around 5-6 weeks after hatching.

Curlew nest on the ground and favour areas where vegetation is typical of damp habitats, making the shores of Lough Erne and some local farmland the ideal habitat for nesting sites.

The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP), with funding provided through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, recently established the Lough Erne Breeding Wader Forum which aims to bring together individuals, farmers, NGO’s and government agencies to work alongside each other to address issues and deliver projects to benefit the conservation of breeding wader species within the locality. Members of the Lough Erne Breeding Wader Forum are looking forward to celebrating World Curlew Day on the 21st of April and they want you to get involved as well!

If you haven’t heard the beautiful call of the Curlew or if you have not seen one in and around the area you live, then listen to the amazing video recording of breeding Curlew on the farmland on the shores of Lough MacNean this year. You can also download a free Curlew Call ringtone for your iPhone or Android device here – then make sure you share it widely with your family and friends.

We are asking the wider community this year to listen and watch very carefully to see if you can hear or spot a Curlew anywhere in this region, particularly any curlew on local farms and if you do, then PLEASE do let us know by sending an e-mail to . It is really important that we find out where the birds are breeding within the region in order to ensure that we can do everything to protect this habitat for the nesting season and in the future.

Elmarie Swanepoel, LELP Programme Manager stated: “World Curlew Day is a great opportunity for the people of Lough Erne and our surrounding areas to learn more about this beautiful and unique species. Many local people remember the different calls of the Curlew from their childhoods growing up in Fermanagh and further afield and have shared their lovely memories of seeing these birds each spring around the lough and local farmland. We hope that many people will join us this year to share the sounds of the Curlew with others and to take the time to let us know where these birds are currently being spotted. The work of the Lough Erne Breeding Wader Forum and the future of these wonderful birds can only be successful with the support of our local farmers and community.”

If you want to learn more about Curlew and the plight of breeding wader species and what you can do to help you can listen to our series of recorded talks ‘Developing Nature Friendly Landscapes’ here. Talks in this series feature information on local projects with the RSPB NI and the Lough Erne Wildfowlers Council as well as insights from the Nature Friendly Farmers Network, DAERA and the inspiring Mary Colwell from the Curlew Recovery Partnership.