Cycling for Curlews

This September I’ll be relying on leg power to return for my third year at university in Falmouth: I’m planning on cycling a meandering path of some 800km from Aberdaron to Land’s End.

‘Why?’, you might be forgiven for asking. Well, aside the element of personal challenge, my primary focus surrounding the expedition is to raise awareness of the plight of a charismatic brown wader that used to abound in the country’s uplands.

artwork by Rachel Porter

The Eurasian Curlew, with its long, curved bill and bubbling cry is a bird which truly epitomises the uplands and estuaries of Britain and Ireland. Unfortunately, however, this species is undergoing drastic declines in breeding numbers…

The UK’s population has declined by an estimated 46% between 1996 and 2010, whilst here in Wales the figure is even more beguiling: an 81% decrease since 1993. EIGHTY ONE PERCENT IN TWENTY YEARS. That’s a lot. And the situation is mirrored across it’s breeding range, with the IUCN deciding the species should be added to it’s dreaded Redlist of threatened species back in 2008.

I for one couldn’t imagine losing the lonesome, bubbling call of the Curlew.

And that’s why I’ve decided to pitch in and do what I can to help these awesome birds. I’ve set up a JustGiving page for my autumn’s cycle ride, where anyone can donate any sum of money they wish. Every penny will be heading to the BTO’s ‘Curlew Appeal’: an initiative that is seeking to discover the exact reasons behind their decline, and what can be done to reverse the trend.

I’ve been truly delighted at the kindness and response from friends and members of the birding community: I’ve already raised close to 40% of my £1000 target in less than a week!

I would really appreciate any donation you can afford, from a few pence to a few pounds. It all adds up. Let’s save this amazing bird before it’s too late


Yesterday I finished mapping out some of the finer route details of my proposed route, using the sustrans National Cycling Network as a basis. Feel free to comment with suggestions for better sections of my route, or if you know some good spots to pitch up at along the way!

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 16.18.31
The planned cycle route, which can be viewed in finer detail here:

My plan is to stop off at a few nature reserves and birding sites en route, such as Ynys Hir in west Wales and Ham Wall in Somerset, in the hope of amassing a reasonable species list for the trip over the ten days!

Please get in touch if you’d like to join me for a stretch of the cycle too. Just drop an email to

Check out Mary Colwell’s epic Curlew Walk which she completed last year in aid of Curlews, and fellow young naturalist James Common’s Three Peak Challenge for Curlews. It was fantastic to see Georgia Locock complete an amazing feat in aid of Swift conservation last week too, with a whopping £2700 raised for the BTO!


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