The curlew recovery for 2023 is underway, and last week 12 more eggs were brought to Pensthorpe, bringing our total to 61 so far. Graham Irvine from Natural England has driven more than 2000 miles, collecting 17 clutches of eggs from the MOD airbases, where curlew nests have been spotted. WWT will be collecting the next clutches for their project in Dartmoor, then once they have around 35 eggs, any remaining found will come to Pensthorpe again.
In the past these nests, that are close to runways would have been removed, as adult birds pose a safety risk to the aircraft, but this project allows them to safely hatch at Pensthorpe and become important individuals in the Norfolk curlew population, boosting the number of young, fledged birds, and hopefully leading to future nesting pairs in the area.
One arrival, the eggs length, breadth, and weight are recorded. These measurements allow an approximate hatch date to be calculated. Every few days the weight of each egg is recorded so the health of the chick can be assessed. During incubation each day an egg needs to loose 15% of its weight, if it has not, it can be moved to an incubator with a higher or lower humidity to get it back on track.
The eggs are also regularly candled. Candling involves shining a light into the egg when in a dark room, this allows you to see the embryo through the shell of the egg. Candling allows you to assess the health of the developing embryo and check the stage of development of the chick.
The team at Pensthorpe are now looking forward to the first eggs hatching. We will keep you posted.