Natural Resources Wales have kindly given permission for Mike Smart of Curlew Forum to take a very unobtrusive, camouflaged portable hide to the edge of Becs Lagoon at high tide in order to try to obtain more ring readings. He will only use the hide very occasionally on the highest of tides and will arrive well before high tide so as to reduce disturbance to birds and birdwatchers to a minimum.
Regular visitors to Goldcliff will know how difficult it can be to see Curlews from the seawall hide on Becs Lagoon, even when the tide is favourable and they move into the lagoon. They are often some way off and hide behind the island so that it is difficult to read letters or numbers engraved on rings, or even to make out colours. (There is one particular bird, raised from eggs at Slimbridge, and released as a fledgeling in 2019, which has small numbers and has so far eluded us).
A BTO study colour-ringed 41 adult Curlews on the Usk estuary in winter 2015/16. For the last two years a team of observers has been watching these Curlews fairly intensively at Goldcliff and Peterstone, with a view to obtaining better data on site fidelity and survival. So far 33 of the 41 have been observed, suggesting a very high rate of adult survival, and the return of at least 33 to the ringing site indicates very strong fidelity to the Usk wintering site. One of these Curlews has regularly moved on to WWT Llanelli to moult (before returning to the Usk) and in the breeding season three of the birds have been resighted in Lancashire, Poland and Finland.
Other colour-ringed Curlews have also been seen: one ringed on the breeding grounds in the Lower Rhine Valley in Germany, one ringed in Poland and one ringed in March 2020 at a roost in Montgomeryshire.