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Hiraethog Wader Project

Curlew feeding in grassy field

Following four years’ work helping lapwings in the area, the focus of the project has now shifted to curlews.

Breeding curlews have suffered 80% declines across Wales in recent decades – the wider Hiraethog area (central north Wales) now holds Wales’ largest population.  We will be trying to find out how these birds use the landscape and how they interact with livestock and farming operations, potential predators and each other.  In addition to our own close observations, this will involve finding out more information from farmers and sharing our findings with them.  We should then be able to provide better advice to farmers on how best to help their birds, including making the most of the new Welsh agri-environment scheme, Glastir.  We will also be trying to involve local people and visitors more, through a modest series of public events and, most exciting, a programme of work with local schools. 

2011 marks the Centenary of the RSPB’s work in Wales – the curlew has been chosen as RSPB Cymru’s centenary bird and money raised through centenary fund-raising will go to help curlew conservation work in Wales.  We want to ensure the long term future for curlews here and apply lessons learned elsewhere.

Project objectives

  • Discover how curlews use the landscape which they inhabit, including habitat preferences, and how things such as livestock, farming operations and potential predators could affect them.
  • Build on the good relationships developed with local farmers to improve our knowledge gained from them and the help we provide for them, including with agri-environment schemes.
  • Using the improved information and understanding gained, try to ensure maximum curlew (and lapwing) breeding productivity.
  • Involve more people in the plight of the local curlew (and lapwing) populations, especially through educational work and events to view or find out about the birds.
  • Through all the above, try to ensure that the needs of breeding curlews, lapwings and other farmland birds are catered for as an instinctive matter of course in all land management operations.
  • Seek to apply any lessons learned in curlew (and lapwing) conservation elsewhere in Wales and further afield.

Key dates so far

  • 1 April 2011 - new phase of wader project, focussing on curlews, begins
  • 28 April 2011 - first reports of lapwing chicks
  • 27 May 2011 - first evidence of curlew chicks, and chicks seen on 29 May 2011

Work planned or underway

1. Timed, close observations of about 10 pairs of curlews.

2. Modest programme of public events (BOOKING ESSENTIAL): -

Wednesday 27th April, 10am-1pm – ‘Flight of the Curlew’ (guided walk - north Hiraethog)

Sunday 8th May, 10am-12.30pm – ‘Curlew Encounters’ (guided walk with Conwy County Borough Council - Pentrefoelas area)

Sunday 22nd May, 10am-1pm - Guided event with the National Trust in the Ysbyty Ifan area

Sunday 29th May, 10am-1pm – ‘Curlew Capers’ (guided walk - north Hiraethog)

Sunday 19th June, 10am-1pm - 'Curlews - the next generation?!' Guided walk in the Pentrefoelas area: Bookings - RSPB Cymru North Wales Office (01248) 672850

Who to contact

Dave Elliott
Upland Lapwing Project officer


Local Farmers, Land-owners and Communities

Countryside Council for Wales

Conwy County Borough Council

Snowdonia National Park Authority

Environment Agency Wales

National Trust (Ysbyty Estate)

Local Tir Gofal and Glastir teams (Welsh Government)