Arrival and departure patterns of Curlews on the Severn Estuary in Gloucestershire

A recent post on this website (under ‘News’ on 13 April 2020) drew attention to a new publication In Wader Study by Rob Robinson, John Sanders and Eileen Rees on the survival of European Curlews. That paper was based on the extensive long term-observations by John Sanders of Curlews colour-ringed on the Severn estuary in Gloucestershire from 2010 to 2013 by a BTO team. An earlier paper by John and Eileen, published in the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s scientific journal Wildfowl 68, covered another aspect of John’s observations of these birds – the timing of arrivals and departure at the wintering area.

The summary notes: Breeding locations reported for 18 birds were from Fennoscandia (5), the Netherlands or Germany (6) and Britain (7). Fennoscandian birds remained significantly later on the estuary each year than the 13 individuals known to breed in Britain, the Netherlands or Germany. Departure dates recorded for 109 Curlew during a more intensive survey in 2016 similarly found that onset of spring migration was significantly later for birds known (or thought because they remained on the estuary until April) to be of Fennoscandian origin. Curlew returned from breeding grounds to the Severn estuary from the first week of June onwards, sooner than reported in previous studies, but with limited evidence for differences in return dates for Curlew breeding in different parts of Europe. Whether early arrival is associated with a failed breeding attempt could not be determined.

The full paper is on page 155 of Wildfowl 68 and can be downloaded from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s website:


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