Conservationists and farmers are celebrating the best breeding season to date for Wessex's Stone Curlews. Figures released by the RSPB confirm that 136 pairs of Stone Curlew bred across Wessex in 2010, successfully raising 97 young.
Nick Adams, RSPB Wessex Stone Curlew Project Officer, said: "Since I started working with Stone Curlews in 2005, I've seen the number of breeding pairs in Wessex increase from 93 to 136, a great testament to a lot of hard work, not least by the many farmers who made space for the birds on their land and in their crops."
Stone Curlew, undisclosed site, Suffolk (Photo: Willie)
"Although the birds have increased, the bulk of the population has confined itself to a few core areas, some of which seemed to be bursting at the seams. So it was a truly magical moment for me this year to watch a Stone Curlew slowly walk up to and sit on its nest on the Marlborough Downs. This is the first confirmed breeding attempt that we are aware of in 34 years on this huge area of chalk downland. It's a major step towards a sustainable Stone Curlew population in Wiltshire."
Adult Stone Curlew sitting on eggs at its nest on a plot managed specially for it. Winterbourne Downs RSPB reserve, Wiltshire, July 2009. (Photo: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com).)
Paul Buckley, Senior Conservation Officer, added: "The growing success of our Stone Curlew project is evidence that conservation really can deliver results, if conducted with a long-term perspective and involving all relevant sectors of society. The RSPB has been working in Wessex for more than 30 years with farmers and landowners, the military and local communities. We launched our Wiltshire Chalk Country Futurescapes programme two years ago, with the aiming of ensuring the survival of Stone Curlew and other charismatic species of the Wessex Downs in perpetuity. By working in partnership, we aim to link the chalk grasslands and traditional farming landscapes occupied by this magnificent bird so that future generations can continue to enjoy its evocative presence."
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