Saving eggs from airfields is bringing a curlew boom in the east of England - Natural England

Curlew chick (Natural England)
The project will increase the population of curlew in the area, which has seen a significant decline in its numbers over the past 40 years (Natural England)

Project underway as International Biodiversity Day 2021 (22 May) is marked.

An innovative Natural England led partnership project that will boost populations of Eurasian curlew is underway in the East of England.

The project is taking eggs laid by curlew on airfields, then rearing and releasing them in the right kinds of habitats for them to thrive.

One of the country’s most iconic threatened species, the curlew has suffered significant declines over the past 40 years, but the partnership project will increase numbers in the region to help the species recover.

It is the first time that the translocation of curlew from airfields has been undertaken at this scale, with 118 eggs already collected. Of these, 76 are now at Pensthorpe Natural Park where they are being incubated, hatched and reared. The rest will be reared by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge.

In July, they will be released at sites in Norfolk, including Wild Ken Hill and Sandringham Estate, while the Slimbridge birds will be released on Dartmoor. The releases aim to reconnect an existing population in Breckland with curlew habitat around the Norfolk coast, creating a new curlew nature recovery network.

Some of the birds will be fitted with satellite or radio tags so that the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) can monitor their progress after they are released, gathering information on their dispersal, habitat use and survival.

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