British wildlife recordings

Numenius arquata : Curlew - Scolopacidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001422 BD25

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire: OS Grid Reference(172500,209500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Curlew, Numenius arquata

  • Description

    The call of the curlew recorded on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales. The curlew is easily recognised among waders by its large size and distinctive, downwardly curving bill. Outside the summer breeding season, it is found along the coast where it gathers together in large flocks with other waders to feed. The curlew uses its long bill to probe the soft mud to feed on small crabs, shellfish, molluscs, and lugworms. The curlew breeds further inland in fields, moorland and large forest clearings, where a nest is made on the ground by the male and lined by the female. Between three and five chicks are fed initially by both parents and then by just the male before they fly after five to six weeks. The call of the curlew is an unmistakable, plaintive, and lonely 'cour-leee' from which the curlew actually derives its name. During the breeding season, this is also accompanied by an attractive bubbling call whilst in flight. There are currently around 38,000 pairs breeding in Britain, with over 100,000 wintering around the coast. Populations of curlews have declined in recent years due to loss of suitable breeding habitat to more intensive farming methods and forestry. Stewardship schemes are helping to increase available breeding habitat.

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