Endangered curlews get a head start - Natural England

Egg collection at RAF Waddington (image: Natural England)
Egg collection at RAF Waddington (image: Natural England)

Curlew recovery project rescues eggs from East of England’s airfields.

The endangered Eurasian curlew is being given a helping hand thanks to a recovery project getting underway today in Norfolk.

The project which builds on a successful pilot project last year, rescues eggs laid by the curlew on airfields before incubating, rearing and releasing them in habitats where they have the best opportunity to thrive.

The curlew is Europe’s largest wading bird and has suffered a severe decline in population over the past 40 years.

The eggs collected by Natural England staff and partners are now starting to hatch at Pensthorpe Natural Park and WWT Slimbridge. Later this summer, the fledged curlew will be tagged and released at Wild Ken Hill and Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, while the birds raised at Slimbridge will be released on Dartmoor.

This year more GPS tags and radio transmitters are being fitted to the birds to boost efforts to track their movements and conservation.

As a ground-nesting species, curlew gravitate to airfields which mimic the natural open grasslands they prefer, while security fencing at airfields can also help deter predators such as foxes. However, curlew nesting close to runways pose a danger to air safety and, until this project began, eggs laid on airfields would be destroyed under licence to prevent the risk of collisions between aircraft and birds.

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Posted On: 01/06/2022

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