Rescued curlews released at Lough Neagh


Five young Eurasian Curlews have been saved and released back into the wild after they faced a wildfire threat in Northern Ireland.

The fledglings have been successfully released at a site near Lough Neagh. They had been saved as eggs in late spring when two nest sites were threatened by peatland fires. Permission was sought and granted to collect the eggs and rear the birds to the point of release.

Five young Eurasian Curlews have been released at Lough Neagh after they were saved as eggs (Paul Bateson).

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The project was the work of the Lough Neagh Partnership and Siobhan Thompson, from the group, said they had been forced to act quickly to protect the nests after 12 separate fires on the site in April and June. She said: "To be able to do such frontline work, and take care of a species that is really, really declining and is in need of conservation work, is fantastic."

Eight eggs were recovered, six hatched and five chicks survived. The eggs were incubated until they hatched and the chicks then reared by hand. In the last four weeks they were transferred to a large outdoor pen to prepare for release.

Conservation scientist Dr Kendrew Colhoun helped with the project and said the hope was that the juvenile birds would return to Lough Neagh to raise their own young when they reach breeding age in a couple of seasons. He said: "The decision, across the agencies, fire service, environment agency, was that this was a sensible thing to do; a sort of crisis approach. We can't sit back and watch this happen, we've got to intervene."