CURLEW numbers are falling so fast in the valleys of South Lakeland that they may disappear altogether, say Morecambe Bay Partnership.

The charity believe their future as a breeding bird is currently on a knife edge.

Now, volunteers at Morecambe Bay Partnership and farmers are looking to protect their curlew nests.

Curlews nest on the ground so eggs and chicks can be easily eaten by predators or accidentally crushed so every nest is critical to their survival. Many curlew pairs have been failing to fledge chicks for several years in a row, which means that curlew numbers are plummeting.

The group have identified a handful of nest sites to protect the previous eggs from destruction.

To help the curlews protect their brood from badgers and foxes, they have been installing electric fences around a broad area of the fields where they are nesting.

Amy Hopley, Morecambe Bay Partnership’s nature and wildlife officer said: "The protected nests are now beginning to hatch, and the chicks must avoid both predators and farm machinery for the next five weeks until they can fly. Each chick fledged is a ray of hope for the future of curlews but they are not out of the woods yet."

Susannah Bleakley, Morecambe Bay Partnership’s chief executive added: "The farmers have been amazing – they have been so accommodating to help the breeding curlews. And it has made a real difference. This year we know that six chicks have hatched and there are more nests that we are watching that are still incubating. The farmers are the heroes in this conservation story."

One of the nests has a remote camera to watch the progress of one the curlew families.

You can see some of the adorable pictures of chicks and fascinating insights into the domestic life of a curlew family on Twitter at @_MBay.

Curlews are our largest wading birds with a distinctive long, curved bill.

They were once very common countryside birds but now they are an endangered species with 30 per cent of their population being lost in the last decade.