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RSPB under fire for bird scaring!

PUBLISHED: 08:50 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:21 07 July 2010

THE RSPB has come under fire after a contractor was brought in to scare starlings away from one of its nature reserves in Suffolk.

The society has employed a specialist firm to disperse huge flocks of starlings at Lakenheath Fen following fears that the birds may pose a danger to fighter jets taking off and landing at the nearby US Air Force base.

THE RSPB has come under fire after a contractor was brought in to scare starlings away from one of its nature reserves in Suffolk.

The society has employed a specialist firm to disperse huge flocks of starlings at Lakenheath Fen following fears that the birds may pose a danger to fighter jets taking off and landing at the nearby US Air Force base.

But one birdwatcher has criticised the RSPB after he witnessed staff “waging world war three” on the starlings during a recent visit to the reserve. John Walshe, of Stowmarket, said he was “shocked” to see volleys of fireworks being let off and loudspeakers emitting alarm calls to scare away the birds that were roosting

in the reed bed at Lakenheath Fen.

The keen conservationist and birdwatcher said: “The starlings had nowhere else to go so they eventually came down on the reed bed.

“In the meantime, the huge disturbance scared off a marsh harrier, 23 cormorants and some wildfowl.”

Chris Durdin, RSPB spokesman, said a firm had been brought in to disperse the starlings at the request of the MoD over concerns about “bird strike risk” near RAF Lakenheath.

He added that the dispersal programme had now stopped following a reduction in the starling numbers at the reserve. “It is not an ideal thing to have to do on a nature reserve but we have done it because bird strike is a real danger to aircraft.”

Mr Durdin said the scaring technique - using firecrackers in a short period before dusk - had not frightened away the reserve's more important residents - over-wintering bitterns, marsh harriers and cranes.


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