Resettlement of burnt ground by Curlew…..only a couple of days after a fire

A fire took place at Winter Hill near Belmont in Lancashire on Friday 27 March 2020: see

It reminded me of once finding a nest with a full clutch on an area of moor burnt just 12 days previously.

The area burnt on the 27 March (approx. 1km²) was to the north of the major summer fire of 2018 that burnt over 7km².

I had a good look over the 2020 burn on 30 March, and the burn has just ‘flashed over’ the tops, leaving the tussocks, wet base and Sphagnum…..even the main stalks of Heather and Bilberry are mainly untouched.

The amount of Sphagnum is quite staggering……probably several thousand patches.

What was especially pleasing was three pairs of Curlew displaying over the burnt area (plus a pair of Lapwing)….after just two  days! Interestingly, there was only one pair of Curlew in that area last year when I covered that area as my Pipit/Skylark control plot. Given the immediate occupancy of this fired area and their love of the mown ‘firebreak’ strips locally…it reinforces the idea that Curlew clearly like short vegetation (or a variation in vegetation heights) in their territory.

I think that mown ‘Curlew plots’ could be the future in areas of Purple Moor Grass Molinia ‘desert’!!

Also up there was a pair of Ravens eating the cocoons of Northern Eggar moths exposed by the fire.

Stephen Martin
Belmont, Lancashire

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