I am very pleased to report that the curlew breeding season this year has been very successful, with all the nests that we have monitored hatching chicks. The eggs in the forth nest began hatching on Monday, when I went to change the batteries on the camera I could just see tiny cracks beginning to appear in the eggs.
I returned to the nest on Wednesday to find the nest camera knocked over, the nest was right next to an obvious track through the vegetation so the camera could quite easily have been knocked over by an animal passing through.
As it turns out, the nest camera footage wasn't required to reveal the fate of the nest, as I walked to the nest I could see one of the parents on the ground surrounded by 3 chicks, I reached into my bag to grab the camera to take some photos, but the chicks fled into the long vegetation and I could see them no longer. I quickly gathered up the camera and the rest of the kit and left them in peace.
Curlew chicks are precocial, meaning they are mobile and can feed themselves as soon as they hatch. This means that once they are up and about the are unlikely to return to the nest site so there is no need to keep the camera on the nest once the young have hatched.
It will be some time before the chicks fledge, usually about 32 - 38 days after hatching. So if you are out and about on the moors keep your eyes peeled for the chicks running around on the ground.
Finally, some statistics. In total we monitored four nests, three nests with four eggs and one with three. One of the nests with four eggs successfully hatched 3 chicks all the rest hatched full clutches, giving 14 chicks in total from four nests.
Here's to an equally productive breeding season next year!
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