Hiraethog wader project

While curlew numbers are decreasing in other areas, there are many curlews breeding in the Hiraethog area. RSPB Cymru are working with local farming communities to try to answer these questions.

Side view of a curlew with its beak open in short green grass.


Following four years’ work helping lapwings in the area, the focus of the project has now shifted to curlews.
Breeding curlews have suffered 80 per cent 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 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. We will also be trying to involve local people and visitors, through a modest series of public events and 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.


  • Discover how curlews use the landscape 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.
  • 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 of the above, ensure the needs of breeding curlews, lapwings and other farmland birds are catered for in all land management operations.
  • Seek to apply any lessons learned in curlew (and lapwing) conservation elsewhere in Wales and further afield.

Key Dates

  • 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 seen on 29 May 2011


Planned Work

1. Timed, close observations of about 10 pairs of curlews.
2. Modest programme of public events (BOOKING ESSENTIAL):
  • Wednesday 27 April, 10am-1pm – ‘Flight of the Curlew’ (guided walk - north Hiraethog)
  • Sunday 8 May, 10am-12.30pm – ‘Curlew Encounters’ (guided walk with Conwy County Borough Council - Pentrefoelas area)
  • Sunday 22 May, 10am-1pm - Guided event with the National Trust in the Ysbyty Ifan area
  • Sunday 29 May, 10am-1pm – ‘Curlew Capers’ (guided walk - north Hiraethog)
  • Sunday 19 June, 10am-1pm - 'Curlews - the next generation?!' Guided walk in the Pentrefoelas area: Bookings - RSPB Cymru North Wales Office (01248) 672850


  • 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)


Coast on a stormy day

Dave Elliott

Upland Lapwing Project officer, RSPB

Tagged with: Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Upland Habitat: Wetland Species: Curlew Species: Lapwing Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Species protection