April 16th, 2018
A leading peatland conservation group is set to highlight the decline of endangered Curlew breeding on Irish bogs at an event in Kildare this weekend.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) will host an event as part of World Curlew Day on April 21st at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre.
While highlighting the plight of the Curlew on Irish bogs, the event will also celebrate the recent return of some of the species to breed on Lodge Bog, Co. Kildare.
The event will include a Curlew talk and a guided walk to Lodge Bog to observe Curlew territory, look for the birds and listen for their iconic call.
During the event, IPCC staff will discuss the threats to the Curlew in Kildare and the conservation work that is being undertaken to give the Curlew the best chance of survival in Lullymore.
Peatlands are extremely important habitats for Curlew, with an estimated 71% of Curlew breeding on bogs and 29% breeding mainly on rushy pasture and wet grassland.
World Curlew Day is used to raise awareness for the eight known Curlew species worldwide, two of which are now believed to be extinct.
Three other species are on the IUCN Red-list of Threatened Species, including the Eurasian Curlew which breeds here in Ireland.
According to the IPCC, a survey undertaken in 2015-2016 recorded less than 150 pairs breeding in the Republic of Ireland. A Curlew Task Force was set up in January 2017 made up of stakeholder groups and experts in Curlew conservation.
Ireland’s breeding Curlew have seen a 97% decline since the 1980’s largely as a result of habitat loss from forestry, farmland activities and commercial peat extraction. Predation by foxes and crows, who thrive in these modified and fragmented landscapes, make it almost impossible for Curlew to rear young chicks, the IPCC said.
According to IPCC Conservation Officer, Katie Geraghty, there is a “buzz of excitement” among staff and the local community as they hear the first calls of the Curlew.
“We are privileged to have them in our locality and it is important that we all work together to help them breed successfully so that we can enjoy their company for many more years,” she added.
“If no action is taken to help save these iconic birds from extinction and the Curlew continues to decline at its present rate, experts predict that breeding Curlew will be lost within 5 to 10 years.”
The IPCC’s work to conserve Curlew on Lodge Bog is supported by Kildare Birdwatch and two local farmers. The work is also part-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and IPCC’s friends of the bogs.