Stone curlew numbers flourish

A QUARTER-of-a-century ago, the stone-curlew was a threatened species to our shores but last week there were celebrations marking the success of a project that has significantly increased the population in East Anglia of the crow-sized bird with long yellow legs.

A QUARTER-of-a-century ago, the stone-curlew was a threatened species to our shores but last week there were celebrations marking the success of a project that has significantly increased the population in East Anglia of the crow-sized bird with long yellow legs.

It was very much champagne time as farmers and conservationists toasted the success of the Stone-Curlew Recovery Project in Breckland which has led to it being removed from listing on the official red danger zone.

The celebration event was staged at the extensive Hilborough Estate, near Swaffham, where the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have worked closely with the Estate's management to ensure the birds continue to thrive with increases from 11 breeding pairs in 1987 to 45 pairs last year.

All involved in the project were very proud at having successfully established two-thirds of the UK population of stone-curlew in Breckland.


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The Project's silver anniversary is considered an “incredibly exciting milestone” for the RSPB and its partners encompassing a fantastic success story for a bird previously on the brink of extinction.

The toast was the success of the vital partnership between the farming community, local landowners and the RSPB.

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The stone-curlew, a rare summer visitor to southern England, is a crow-sized bird with a large head, long yellow legs and relatively long wings and tail. Active at night, its large yellow eyes enable it to locate food when it is dark.

While everyone was in jubilant mood at last week's event reflecting on the success story of the Project they were conscious of the need to ensure that the work continues so the bird continues to thrive in Breckland.

“The Stone-Curlew has now been removed from the red list of birds in danger to the amber list but we have to ensure that we don't take our eye off the ball and we need to maintain the effort that has made in the past 25 years,” said Simon Tonkin, farmlands conservation officer for the RSPB Eastern England.

He said: “The celebration event is an opportunity for us tell the local community, including councillors and farmers, about the work that farmers and the RSPB have been doing. This is a wonderful success story but the caveat is that we should not undo the good work that has been completed through changes of land use and development that could impact adversely on what has been achieved.”

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