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Country News - 2001

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Curlew flying high in the Yorkshire Dales
Mon 18 June

THE CURLEW - which is part of the Daelnet logo - is alive and well and flying high in the Yorkshire Dales. So are other breeds of wading birds, according to an official report published today (June 18).

Curlew, picture courtesy of the RSPB
There are, in fact, more breeding pairs of curlews in the national park than in the rest of UK - and also healthy populations of other upland waders like oyster catchers, redshank and snipe.

These are conclusions of a year long investigation by national park officials and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, whose findings are published today.

It concludes that the enclosed uplands in the park have a curlew population exceeding all those found in the rest of the country. The density of breeding oystercatchers is considerably higher than in the rest of the North of England and populations of snipe and redshank are also healthy.

In yet another bonus, the Dales are also home to "nationally important" numbers of lapwing, the once common "peewit" which has suffered a disastrous decline in lowland areas, possibly due to intensive farming methods. Lowland breeding curlews and oystercatchers has also suffered severe declines.

The survey is a major fillip for the national park for although in the public eye its major function is the preservation of the landscape, it also has a statutory duty to conserve wildlife.

Ian Court, species officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "This survey proves that the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a nationally important breeding area for waders. We have known for a long time the importance of our moorlands for breeding waders but to date we have not had the proof of just how important the enclosed upland, below the moorland, is for species such as curlew, snipe, lapwing and redshank.
Lapwing, picture courtesy of the RSPB

"What is important now is that we continue to monitor these populations and by working in partnership with farmers and landowners and other conservation organisations, such as the RSPB, we continue to protect what is a national asset."

Nick Mason, RSPB conservation officer, said: "The results of the survey confirm the enormous value of the Yorkshire Dales for the breeding wading birds. Thanks to this survey we now have vital information that will help to secure a future for the important populations of birds in the National Park.

"There is no more evocative sound than the far-carrying call of a curlew in spring, and safeguarding a future for these wonderful wading birds must be a top priority for everyone who cares about the wildlife of the Dales."

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