Stone curlew reaches conservation target ahead of schedule – but dangers signs are flickering27/11/2008 10:06:17 November 2008. The latest breeding figures for one of the UK's most threatened birds, the stone-curlew, shows that it has reached a conservation milestone, seven years ahead of target. However, the RSPB and Natural England today are warning that the recovery may be reversed if measures to create suitable habitat for this bird are not implemented quickly.
351 pairs nested
Warning signs - Fledging rate dropped dramatically
Wet weather and scrapping of set-aside
The RSPB's Robin Wynde has been monitoring the fortunes UK's stone-curlew population for over a decade. Commenting on this year's figures, he said: "Whilst it is great to see the population going up again we are concerned at how few stone-curlew chicks were produced this year. We fear that numbers could drop over the next couple of years because there were too few young produced to replace natural mortality. Stone-curlews used to nest on fallow land or on bare patches within crops. This year there was very little open ground, particularly in the latter part of the summer, and it was a short breeding season as a result."
Gareth Morgan is the RSPB's head of agricultural policy. He said: "When the European Commission axed set-aside, Hilary Benn did a fantastic job in securing compensatory measures. The challenge now is to seize these opportunities for the benefit of the stone-curlew and other threatened farmland species."
The rise of the stone-curlew population is one of the major successes of the Natural England/RSPB Action for Birds in England project which has worked so positively with farmers.