40km for Curlew Conservation

The haunting call of the Curlew is one of the most iconic, and enjoyable, sounds in nature. Especially in Britain: where rippling trill of our largest wading bird evokes images of heather clad, misty moorlands and windswept coastal estuaries. It is a sound that ensnares many, myself included; though one that, sadly, is heard less often these days. With Britain’s Curlew population currently plummeting and the endearing birds spiraling ever close to extinction on our shores – the Curlew subject to a 46% decline in numbers between 1994-2010 alone.

The factors attributing to the decline of the Curlew are not widely known, though a number of explanations have been put forward. Among these, it is thought that climate change, afforestation, changes in farming practice and an increase in generalist predators such as foxes and crows may be to blame. All of which, through a decrease in suitable habitat and an increasingly low rate of nest success, have placed our breeding Curlew under substantial pressure. The situation facing the Curlew in the UK is not bright, nor hopeful, though while the causes of their woeful decline remain open to speculation, the importance of the British population of these endearing birds lies clear for all to see: Britain holds 28% of Europe’s Curlew population, and more must be done in order to protect them.

Thankfully, more is being done. In the form of vital research and monitoring courtesy of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). The body working to better our knowledge of the species and provide a sound, scientifically valid basis for future conservation work. Something undertaken through an extensive (and costly) program of ringing, GPS tracking, remote tracking and research. Work which, now more than ever, is vital if we are going to bring the Curlew back from the brink which cannot take place absent public support. This is why, following no end of brainstorming, myself and good friend Sacha Elliott have decided to do something positive and actively support the BTO’s recently launched Curlew Appeal.

When toying with ideas on how to raise funds for the appeal, both myself and Sacha wanted to do something a little out of our zone of comfort, thus something energetic seemed like the obvious choice. We are, after all (and by our own admission), not particularly fit. The reason why we have opted to commit to the Yorkshire ‘Three Peaks Challenge‘ during June 2017. To challenge ourselves physically and a fund-raise for what we feel is an incredibly important cause. We all cherish our Curlew, right?

The challenge takes in the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough and involves some 40km of hiking over often challenging ground: accomplish-able in around 12 hours. This is easily the most walking that either of us have done before and will surely prove testing. Especially for moi, a beer-bellied former smoker with a particular aversion to anything that vaguely resembles exercise. It will not be easy but we are determined to see it through.

Prior to undertaking the trip next Summer, we have set up a Just Giving page to raise money for the BTO and have broadcast an open offer for others to join us in our venture. If you too would like to take part, and thus raise both funds and awareness for the fight to protect our Curlew, you can join our fundraising team. While equally, and perhaps more importantly, you can support our campaign both financially – if you can spare the change – or by sharing it with friends, family or anyone else you feel might like to donate. Every little really does help, and if we are to reach our team target of £1000, we will certainly need your help. And would be incredibly grateful if you would consider supporting.

If you would like to donate, or indeed, learn more about the project. You can visit ‘Just Giving’ through the link below. Though Sacha will also be distributing links to her fundraising page on social media too.




  1. Candy says:

    Today there was a curlew under a tree in my back garden. I live on eastwick Road. In Taunton. I didn’t know it was there until it ran out and flew off. Is this usuall?

    1. James Common says:

      Not usual but expected in this awful weather! There’s a lot of usually rural birds arriving in gardens; from golden plover to snipe!

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