2017 New Forest Curlew survey results

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By Russell Wynn, 12 May 2018

In 2017, Wild New Forest again co-ordinated a survey of breeding Curlews and other waders. The Executive Summary is copied below, and the full report can be downloaded by clicking the following link:


A New Forest Curlew nest with hatching eggs on 30 May 2017 (Photo: Shane King)
A New Forest Curlew nest with hatching eggs on 30 May 2017 (Photo: Shane King)


A volunteer-based survey of breeding Curlews and other ground-nesting waders in the New Forest was again undertaken in spring 2017, following on from that in 2016. This project was initiated in response to concerns about a perceived population decline and decreased productivity due to pressures such as predation and recreational disturbance.

Curlew territory mapping in 15 broad areas of suitable wet heathland, bog and mire habitat, covering ~100 km2, produced 37 territories. This is comparable to the 2016 total of 40 territories, and confirms a dramatic population reduction of up to two-thirds over the last two decades.

A total of 12 Curlew nests were located from late April onwards, equating to just under one-third the monitored territories. Limited information was again obtained on productivity, with hatching observed at one site, young chicks at two sites, and well-grown juveniles at a further three sites.

Nest temperature loggers were trialled to try and gain further information about breeding success or failure. Paired nest and control loggers were deployed at seven nests, with five successfully recovered after the breeding season. These provided fascinating insights into both successful hatchings and breeding failures, and highlighted impacts such as nest predation and potential livestock trampling at night, that would be impossible to obtain through other methods.

Lapwing and Snipe were also recorded again in 2017, although less rigorously than Curlew; estimated populations of both species in 2016-17 are probably in the region of 100-150 pairs and therefore apparently stable. Redshanks were again restricted to just one or two sites in the southeast of the New Forest.

Public engagement included a media release that saw the survey featured on BBC News online, and presentations to local interest groups.