Northern Ireland

Curlew concern: Mary Colwell to walk from Enniskillen to England to promote plight of bird

The curlew
Image caption Northern Ireland has lost around 80% of its curlews in the past two decades

A conservationist sets out on Thursday to walk 500 miles across the British Isles to raise awareness of the plight of one of our most threatened birds.

Mary Colwell will walk from Enniskillen to the east coast of England to help the curlew.

Its numbers have declined rapidly in Northern Ireland in recent years.

It is now on a red list of birds giving cause for conservation concern. The journey will take Mary six weeks.

Along the way she will promote the plight of the wader whose evocative call was once common in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has lost around 80% of its curlews in the past two decades.

Image caption Mary Colwell will walk from Enniskillen to the east coast of England to help the curlew

The drainage of land, the planting of trees in wetland, and pressure from predators have all had an impact.

The RSPB is running several conservation programmes in Northern Ireland in counties Fermanagh, Down and Derry.

They are working with farmers to preserve habitat.

In Fermanagh, there are thought to be only around a hundred breeding pairs.

The bird likes rough, wet vegetation and grasses of different heights where they can hide from predators and forage for food.

'Grace and beauty'

Mary Colwell has had a lifelong interest in the birds.

"I love the way they look," she said.

"I love the long bill, it looks quite comical. It has got a little head and a plump body and long legs.

"But it holds all those characteristics with tremendous grace and beauty.

"And combine that with its call which is utterly evocative and beautiful, particularly at this time of year when they're breeding."

You can follow Mary's journey at this website and on twitter at @curlewcalls

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