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CurlewWatch Monitoring

CurlewWatch Monitoring Note Feb 2024 

Watch Group Objectives : 

1. Determining Curlew numbers 

2. Find out where territories are 

3. Help the birds nesting success population 

Monitoring Allocations 

Group volunteer numbers will enable large parts of the Matterdale valley, the Commons and other nearby areas to be monitored. This will mainly be from roads and public ROWs. There is more flexibility on the Commons. 

Monitoring areas, are being allocated to individuals, in the main, by proximity to where group members live. Confirmation of allocations discussed at the 15.02.24 meeting will to follow. Anyone without an allocation can still assist and record in the monitored areas. 

I will be looking a bit more closely, with landowner’s consent, starting with where territories found last year. In due course there may be opportunities for others to help with this. 


Aim of monitoring is to find the birds, then by building up a pattern of their behaviour over time try to establish where they have territories. Group members should not go looking for actual nests. If, however potential nest locations are found please report via WhatsApp.


A Recording sheet for maintaining ongoing records has been put on 

When “in the field” Phone or Notebook are usually better than Recording Sheet 

Information required for Recording Sheet is hopefully self-explanatory, but the key details required are: 

1. Location of the birds. Accuracy is important. Reference to a landmark sometimes also is useful but your Grid Ref, with direction (bearing if possible) of bird and distance to bird is a good way of do this, and enables plotting on a map later. Ordnance Survey App especially in AR Viewer (if you have it) is good for Grid Refs and bearings. Taking a screen print then saves the information. 

2. Vocal Curlew activity, where appropriate. They are sometimes heard but not seen and usually heard before seen. Get to know different vocalisations. For information see links on Resource Sheet on Matterdale.Org. 

3. Bird numbers, movement, and behaviour physical and vocal. This information begins to give a picture of what the Curlews are doing i.e.

“Curlew flew over field” doesn’t give much information but “single curlew flies up to chase a crow with agitated calling then returns to land” suggests the bird is protecting something. “Single curlew on wall” suggests chicks are present. 

Grazing and Habitat are least important parts of the sheet but if completed add to the overall picture. 

Recording Sheet can also be used for non Curlew bird records particularly other waders lapwing, snipe etc for these location and any relevant behaviour again would be helpful.

Relevant field observations can be shared on WhatsApp. An edited screen print of the OS App in normal mapping mode is also useful for this purpose. 


Mid Feb Curlews start to return from wintering grounds so worth looking and listen out for them from then. 

Beginning of April more proactive and methodical monitoring can commence. Before then work out routes you plan to follow using roads and footpaths. From start of April walk the routes weekly but more regularly if possible. Hopefully curlew activity will be seen which starts to show where territories are. 

Mid April nesting usually starts. Depending on already recorded activity a “walk day” where as much of the area is observed on an agreed date might be worthwhile. 

If possible nest protection fences to be erected. More information on this to follow. 

Mid April/ early May, hopefully a reasonable picture of territories might be seen. 

May-July any territories found are monitored regularly to learn what happens. 


When monitoring Undertake your own Risk Assessment and if alone tell someone where you are going.


Do not access farm land (other than ROW) without consent. Check with CS first. 

Be sensible around farm land, gates, livestock, parking etc 

Even if following a ROW, unless there is a clear visible path do not cross growing hay meadows.



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