People are being encouraged to report sightings of breeding curlews as part of a programme aimed at bringing the iconic bird "back from the brink".

The Curlew Conservation Programme is encouraging landowners and other members of the public to record locations of curlew sightings between April and June and report the information to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The NPWS has said breeding curlew are currently nesting in bogs, pastures, meadows and other open and wet habitats in hotspots around the country.

The identified hotspots are: Stack's Mountains, Co Kerry; Lough Corrib; Lough Ree; North Roscommon/Mayo; Mid-Leitrim; North Monaghan; Donegal; the Slieve Aughty Mountains and counties Laois and Kildare.

By submitting records of sightings, the public can help build up a national picture of the number of breeding birds.

The Curlew Conservation Programme has been working with landowners in the nine key areas since 2017 in an effort to halt the decline of a bird whose numbers decreased by 96% in a 30-year period.

There are now fewer than 200 breeding pairs of the birds across Ireland.

Read more: Curlew's return to Lough Neagh delights project team

Curlew occur in flocks around many of our coasts in winter, but the vast majority are migrants, with only around 1 in 30 birds actually breeding here in the spring.

Dr Seán Kelly, who is managing the breeding survey for the NPWS, said "breeding curlew populations in Ireland are amongst the country's most pressing conservation priorities."

The survey "will provide an update on the previous survey from 2015, letting us know how successful our efforts to date have been and what we need to do in the immediate future," he said.

"There is huge positive momentum around the country for Curlew conservation, particularly in the farming community, and we need to build upon this."