Conservationists’ joy as two curlew chicks return to Lough Neagh

a curlew chick
a curlew chick

The return of two young curlew to Lough Neagh has been celebrated as a boost to the dwindling population.

The species are carefully monitored as one of Northern Ireland’s most endangered species, having declined by 85% since 1985.

During survey work at the Co Armagh site this week, there was delight to see two young birds which had hatched there in 2020 return.

A Lough Neagh Partnership project had watched their journey from eggs in nests out on the site, through the hatching period and their eventual successful fledging.

The two birds were the only to survive to adulthood out of eight eggs.

Siobhan Thompson, National Heritage Officer, Lough Neagh Partnership, said: “It is unusual for young birds to return in the first year, however we know the tag numbers and colours and are keeping an eye to see what happens with them.

“It’s a wonderful thing to know we have seven young curlew potentially coming back to Lough Neagh in future years to breed.

We believe interventions like this would help to stabilise the population in the next five to 10 years

Siobhan Thompson

“Two years ago most of the chicks we were monitoring in our project and surrounding area didn’t make it to adulthood and there are years when no young survive so it is incumbent on us to ensure we work hard to assist chicks to survive when we become aware of their nests.”

She described the curlew as an “iconic bird with a beautiful and unique sound”, but warned the situation regarding their survival is dire.

“We believe interventions like this would help to stabilise the population in the next five to 10 years,” she added.

The curlew projects carried out by Lough Neagh Partnership around the shores of Lough Neagh are part of the Saving Nature project being delivered in the area with National Lottery Heritage Fund support since 2016.

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