| 12.7°C Belfast

Delight as three curlews hatch at Co Antrim farm

Close

Curlews are under threat in Northern Ireland

Curlews are under threat in Northern Ireland

Curlews are under threat in Northern Ireland

Curlew chicks have fledged at a Co Antrim farm for the first time in 20 years.

Last year a pair of curlews attempted to breed at Greenmount Hill Farm in Glenwherry for the first time since 2005 - only to fail to hatch any young.

But this summer RSPB NI's conservation adviser Neal Warnock was delighted to see that two pairs arrived back at the farm and he can confirm that one of the pairs has successfully fledged three young.

It is believed these are the first curlews to fledge from the site since the 1990s.

The happy news is a real boost considering that over the past two decades curlew numbers across the UK have almost halved.

In Northern Ireland more than 80% of the curlew population has been lost since 1987.

Mr Warnock said: "When news broke that one of the pairs had hatched three young, their progress became the talk of the community. It was a very long six-week wait watching them grow until they finally stretched their wings and departed.

"Curlews only rarely fledge three young, so this was terrific news for all involved in the project and should help see them become established on the farm."

The Glens of Antrim and Co Fermanagh are the last remaining hotspots for curlews in Northern Ireland. In the wider Glenwherry area, there are approximately 45 breeding pairs recorded annually.

The area is also home to lapwings and snipe.

Since 2009, RSPB NI, the College of Agriculture, Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) and others have been working together to improve the natural environment in Glenwherry.

Graeme Campbell, CAFRE's GHRP project , added: "We are delighted with this year's curlew success and that the work to attract breeding waders over the last six years has also resulted in increasing numbers of snipe breeding on the farm."

Belfast Telegraph