Growing up in Greater London, the curlew was a ‘holiday bird’; an exciting glimpse of something unknown when we would visit other parts of the UK.

Now living in the Eden Valley these charismatic birds are a part of my every day.

Ever-present in the fields, they are recognisable by their distinctive silhouettes as they skulk through the grass looking for worms, or by the recognisable ‘cur-lee’ of their display call.

How to recognise a curlew? They are 60-80cm long, with a wingspan up to 100cm, their feathers are mottled brown and grey, and they have long bluish legs.

Their most defining feature is their long down-curved bill that is pink on the underside.

They are primarily found on managed rough grasslands, moorlands and bogs as well as being found around of the whole of the UK coastline.

An old Scottish name for the curlew is 'Whaup' or 'Great Whaup'.

It's evocative call has been immortalised in the poem, The Seafarer, which dates back to 1,000 AD, but may be even older:

"I take my gladness in the... sound of the Curlew instead of the laughter of men."

Curlews are generally migratory; however the mild climate of the UK means we have a large resident population. There are 66,000 breeding pairs and while 60% of the breeding population lives in Scotland, luckily for us the Pennines are one of a few hot spot areas that show the greatest breeding numbers.

Unfortunately, curlew numbers are declining.

They suffered a 42% decrease between 1995 and 2008.

They have also been classed as ‘red’ under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List of birds in 2015 and listed as ‘near threatened’ on the Global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

One key reason for this is change to habitat, the agricultural intensification in upland farming as one example. However, they also fall victim to high levels of nest predation, the fox being their most significant predator.

Similar findings across Europe suggest that increases in predator populations are impacting curlew numbers.

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices.

We live in an area where we get to see curlews all year round, so next time you are exploring footpaths through farmland or out and about at the coast, why not keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale curved beak of the curlew… If you are really lucky you might even see a whole curfew of them.

By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature.

Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust