John Dickinson is a resident of Upton-on–Severn in Worcestershire who took part with Ian Duncan and Mike Smart last year in surveys of breeding Curlews in the riverside Ham, immediately alongside the town. This year he has tried to get other people from Upton (many of whom go walking on the Ham) to take part in Curlew surveys, by posting the following message on the town Facebook page. An excellent precedent which others might like to follow.
The curlews are coming!
My name is John Dickinson and I live in the centre of Upton and last year I got involved with a project, organised by Worcestershire and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trusts, to survey the local population of curlews.
Curlews are large wetland wading birds with long beaks which they use for probing in mud for worms and other invertebrates and, as many of you will know, breed (or attempt to breed) on Upton Ham and surrounding areas. Breeding is becoming increasingly intermittent and, as, a result, these lowland curlews are in serious decline. They were observed on the Ham and Fish Meadow last year but, as far we know, they weren’t successful in raising chicks. The survey covers meadows and hams on the Severn and the Avon throughout Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and the aim this year is to record the activity of the curlews and, if possible, protect any nesting birds we find from being disturbed by people and their pets or by predators. The main predators are foxes, crows and, possibly, domestic pets. But before we can protect the curlews, we need to know where they are.
We’re looking for volunteers, especially local people who regularly spend time on the Ham and Fish Meadow (and other wetlands in the area), who would be interested in keeping eyes and ears open for the curlews, and reporting any activity seen. We want to know when the first birds arrive (it could be any time from now) and what they are doing … How many do you see? Are they flying over? Are they landing? What call are they making? Does a pair seem to be settling down in one spot … a sign that they might be nesting?
If you’d be interested in being involved please message me here or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01684 301859 and I can give you more information. More information available here: https://www.curlewcall.org/
On 31 January 2018 John Dickinson reported:
Some interesting developments and information coming out of my Facebook post.
- Someone called Sandra Hill has reported that last year her partner witnessed a crow taking a young curlew on Upton Ham. Apparently he intervened and chased it off but the damage had been done. Confirmation of our suspicions.
- We’ve also had a request to do a presentation at the Worcestershire Association of Women Graduates by their current leader, Sue Powell, although they book so far ahead it wouldn’t be until next spring (2019)! Sue lives in a house overlooking the Ham and, although unable to get involved at present due to her partner’s illness, she said she would later in the year. She suggested doing the presentation at a meeting at her house in the hope that it might be possible to see curlews at the same time.
- I had a response from Councillor Betty Williams wishing us luck and referring to Mike Smart’s ‘very interesting’ talk at last year’s town meeting. I took the opportunity to ask her about who’s responsible for the signs at the entrances to the Ham and she has suggested I contact the Town Clerk, Mrs Jo Adams who would know. I also asked her if we could have a spot at this year’s town meeting to which she didn’t directly respond but I guess that would also be a question for Mrs Adams.
The logical conclusion of our conversations and the information about predation above, is that we ought to intervene if we locate nesting curlews.