Antrim hills hosts endangered Curlew 'Nestcam Project'

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

RSPB NI, the leading conservation charity, is bringing us a dose of nature and shining a spotlight on one of Northern Ireland’s most endangered species, the curlew, through its latest webcam project, Curlew LIVE.

With more people than ever being connected to nature and the well-known psychological benefits of birdwatching, the charity is offering nest side seats to Northern Ireland’s first ever curlew LIVE webcam, which has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

RSPB NI wants to encourage people to take a break from studying, home working or daily routine and take time to tune into nature.

With a recent YouGov poll reporting that two thirds of people in the UK said nature was a source of solace during the pandemic, with more than half of those surveyed in NI (58%) believing watching birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment during this time and increasing popularity of white noise and calming sounds, the charity hopes that Curlew LIVE webcam will prove popular with audiences of all ages.

Neal Warnock, RSPB NI’s Senior Conservation Officer, said, “Over the next two-weeks, we’ll be bringing you a bird soap opera following a curlew nest in the Antrim Hills.

“Be prepared to laugh out loud at the antics that are going on, be captivated by the male’s impressive ‘bubbling’ song and watch on tender hooks as we wait for the eggs to hatch.

“With their amazing long curved bills, long legs and evocative calls, curlews are one of our most charismatic birds, but their numbers are in steep decline.

“The call of the curlew was once a familiar sound but sadly is fading into memories, as breeding numbers have fallen by 82% since the mid-1980’s. Through our up-close, real time and 24/7 footage, we want audiences to fall in love with this species and support our work to help save nature.”

Dr Lewis, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Belfast Trust and BMA Consultant Committee Member and bird enthusiast commented, “Not only is birdwatching entertaining but it can be meditative and provide perspective.

Once you stop and look, you will see that birds have fascinating lives which are a joy to watch, Curlew LIVE is an easy way to begin and provides an opportunity to switch off from the modern world, reboot brains and take some much-needed rest.

“As human beings, we’ve evolved to rely on nature to regulate our moods and behaviour, I hope that this project will encourage people to get their nature prescription, and perhaps try their hand at birdwatching, this summer.”

Neal Warnock added, “We would like to thank National Lottery players and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding this nest cam project to make nature accessible for new audiences.”

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We’re delighted that through our Heritage Emergency Fund, we’re able to support RSPB NI as they recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that National Lottery players have really benefitted from natural heritage and wildlife throughout the last year, and this new Curlew LIVE project is a great way to help people get even closer to nature as we emerge from the pandemic.”

RSPB NI is working with, farmers and local communities, to help secure the future of breeding curlews in the Antrim Hills and Lough Erne as part of the EU’s LIFE programme. Curlew LIVE webcam is filming under license from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The charity relies on the generosity of its supporters to fund its work. If you like what you see, support the work of RSPB in Northern Ireland by donating, visiting its nature reserves this summer or becoming a member.

To tune or for more information visit: www.rspb.org.uk/NIwebcams.

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