Conservation at Work

Blog & News


22nd April 2024

The Moorland Association supported celebrations to mark World Curlew Day this weekend in the North York Moors, with internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter David Gray performing at a special event in aid of curlew conservation.

A curlew discovery walk for members of the public took place on Saturday, organised by the charity Curlew Action in partnership with the North York Moors National Park, across High Blakey Moor. In addition, Farndale, Bransdale, Spaunton and Westerdale Moors are also havens for the curlew.

Curlew Action was founded by Mary Colwell, an award-winning author, producer and campaigner for nature, to help reverse the decline in curlew numbers in England. Platinum-selling musician David Gray has a lifelong passion for nature. He is a patron and ambassador for Curlew Action.

On Saturday evening David Gray performed at the Band Room in Farndale and was joined on stage by Mary Colwell to discuss how nature influences his music and why he is a patron of the organisation.

The curlew is one of the most rapidly declining birds in the UK but grouse moors provide  a safe haven for this ground-nesting bird, due to their high quality habitat and predator control. Ninety per cent of grouse moors have curlew nesting successfully.

Bernard Moss, a grouse moor manager in the North York Moors said: ”We were delighted to welcome David Gray to the Band Room as part of this superb weekend of celebration in aid of curlew conservation. Surveys over the past three years show that our curlew populations are thriving, but the North York Moors is one of the last strongholds in England for these birds, which used to be a common sight all over England.

“The two most important things we can do for ground-nesting birds such as the curlew are to ensure the habitat is right for them and to control the number of predators such as foxes, stoats and crows, which take their eggs and chicks.  The curlew has no defence against these predators and it relies on us to give it a helping hand.”

Peer-reviewed scientific research found that curlew breeding success was four times higher on grouse moors than on other landholdings. Similar results were reported for other wading birds.


Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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