|Scientific name:||Gallinago gallinago|
Summer visitor from west Europe and west Africa, winter visitor from Faeroe Islands, Iceland and northern Scotland.
A relatively common wader but not easily seen, unless flushed out of marshy vegetation, when it typically towers away in a frantic zig zag fashion. The disproportionately long, straight bill is easily visible in flight. If you are lucky enough to see one standing partially or wholly out in the open (usually at the edge of reeds), you will make out the series of dark brown, pale buff and black stripes and bars on the head and body - this produces a good camouflage effect.
Flight call an abrupt "scratch..". Song includes a far-carrying "chipper, chipper…" often at night - sometimes delivered from a fence post. During display flights over the nesting territory, they make an eerie goat bleating sound - this is called drumming and it is produced by stiff feathers sticking out at the tail sides, which vibrate as the bird flies in a roller coaster pattern in the sky.
Diet consists largely of vegetable matter and seeds, and earthworms, tipulid larvae and other soil invertebrate fauna.
Nests on the ground, usually concealed in a grassy tussock, in or near wet or boggy terrain. Young leave the nest soon after hatching.
Highly dispersed distribution in winter. They forage across a variety of wetland and damp habitats. Particularly high concentrations are found on the fringes of lowland lakes.
Widespread resident. Underrecorded during surveys. Shannon & Fergus Estuary in County Clare, Ballymacoda in County Cork and Tralee Bay, Lough Gill & Akeragh Lough in Kerry have supported the highest numbers (>150 birds).
Numbers bolstered in Winter due to migration of European birds.
Blog posts about this bird
€30 million scheme to help breeding waders announced
Curlew in breeding habitatLoss of breeding habitat through agricultural intensification, draining of peatlands and afforestation have all contributed to these declines, but widespread predation of nests and chicks by generalist predators such as foxes and crows have also severely impacted remaining populations in recent years. BirdWatch Ireland had previously identified that a scheme underpinned by at least €30 million was required to support farmers to undertake measures to save Ireland’s breeding waders from extinction. We are pleased that the Irish Government has taken heed. The Government has been implementing measures aimed at protecting and restoring populations, for example, through the Acres Co-operation scheme and the Curlew Conservation Programmes. However, more ambitious plans are required if these iconic birds are to be saved from extinction. Linda Lennon, BirdWatch Ireland’s CEO, said, “The new measures which have just been announced could make a significant difference to saving breeding waders, but must be targeted and implemented correctly. Farmers have long wanted to act for nature but have lacked the funding to enable them to do so. This new funding stream must enable farmers to put in place habitat management measures to protect breeding waders on their land. “Predator control measures, including the installation of specialised fencing to exclude predators, must also be part of the solution. The effectiveness of such fencing has already been proven beyond doubt by projects implemented by BirdWatch Ireland and others and is crucial to efforts to save our breeding waders.”
Golden Plover in breeding plumage