Written by Alex Morgan-Grenville
As a part of the network of team members and supporters who make up Curlew Action, you have played a role in achieving fantastic things this year at the charity. These have included crucial conservation successes, as we support work to actively protect and observe declining curlew populations to ensure their present survival. This also includes building on our outreach work, bringing the story of the curlew to as many people as possible so that curlews get the support they need, not just now but through the coming decades. Although there is far more to be done if we want to protect our biodiversity, the hard work is starting to pay off. I outline some of our highlights below.
The launch of the Curlew Recovery Partnership (CRP) in March was a huge moment for the protection of England’s curlews. The partnership is helmed by a group of nine organisations at the heart of UK conservation – including Curlew Action – and chaired by our very own Mary Colwell. Through the CRP we are already beginning work coordinating and implementing real conservation efforts and lobbying the government for policies which support curlew recovery within its new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).
In collaboration with WWT, we released the popular Curlew Fieldworker Toolkit this year in order to provide the best possible guidance to conservationists in the field, covering everything from the best practice and equipment for protecting and observing curlews to establishing good working relationships with land managers. Curlew conservation is incredibly complex, and it is essential that it is done carefully and correctly to ensure that it helps, rather than hinders, the birds’ survival.
We’ve also supported Curlew Country this year in their groundbreaking headstarting project in Shropshire. By rescuing eggs which were in non-viable nesting spots, and rearing the chicks in carefully controlled conditions simulating normal curlew nesting, the group managed to release 34 healthy fledglings this year. This is a wonderful result which will contribute greatly to the survival of the curlew both in Shropshire and across the UK.
But we can’t save the curlew solely through fieldwork. We must also bring people with us on the journey of conservation, so that everybody is committed to saving our precious wildlife. With this in mind, this year we have recruited a large group of ambassadors who are helping us spread the word across the UK and the rest of the world, setting up events, writing blogs and boosting our fundraising efforts. In fact, one of our ambassadors has helped us to set up the Junior Curlew Network, a network of schools promoting curlew conservation in education so that the next generation has the fascination in nature that they will need to protect it. Curlew Action has also been at the centre of campaigns to introduce a GSCE in natural history, which we hope are now very close to being approved by the Department of Education.
World Curlew Day in April was another fantastic opportunity for us to tell the nation the story of the curlew. Our art and poetry competition and widely publicised fundraising ‘kiltwalks’ proved hugely popular and got many of our lovely supporters involved and engaged, including brand new patron for this year, musician David Gray. David has been incredibly supportive and generous with his efforts, and is earnestly committed to the fight against curlew population decline, for which we are incredibly grateful.
Alongside our excellent podcasts produced and presented by Mary Colwell, 2021 has seen us launch our first ever virtual seminar, where a varied array of guest speakers wowed us with their stories and knowledge from the worlds of conservation, campaigning, music and creativity. This fantastic event allowed us to raise funds to help UK Youth for Nature paint an amazing curlew mural bringing nature to the streets of Manchester. The seminar also paved the way for many more to come in 2022, when we will be picking up on some more fascinating topics about conservation and how we can learn from the curlew in the modern world.
As you can see, this has been a huge year for us at Curlew Action, and we want to say a massive thank you for all that you have done to help us get here. In reality, though, we are only just getting started: there’s so much more we need to do to save our curlews, and to show the public that it is up to us whether we enable all of our wonderful wildlife to survive the next few decades. It is essential that we spend this next year working even harder, and we will need your help to do it.