Pair of rare little ringed plovers with “squatters rights” hold up building work for new centre in Cley

A picture of a little ringed plover in a nest. Picture provided by BTO Picture: Derek Belsey A picture of a little ringed plover in a nest. Picture provided by BTO Picture: Derek Belsey

Sabah Meddings sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk
Friday, June 20, 2014
8:15 AM

Work on a wildlife reserve which keeps rare birds safe was delayed after a pair of protected waders with “squatter’s rights” bit back and nested before builders could move in.

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An impression of the proposed Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre at Cley. Picture: LSI ARCHITECTSAn impression of the proposed Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre at Cley. Picture: LSI ARCHITECTS

The long stretches of picturesque marshes at Cley are a haven for bird enthusiasts, providing a habitat for rare species.

Owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the jewel in the crown of the reserve was to be a new education centre sitting behind the visitors’ centre.

But before work could begin, a pair of little ringed plovers nested on a field next to the building site.

The Schedule One protected birds settled down to lay their eggs, delaying building work on the new Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre.

Nature gets in the way elsewhere

Plans for new visitors centre at Paston Great Barn were put permanently on hold after rare and sensitive barbastelle bats were discovered in its roof. Now visitors are only allowed occasionally.

Plans to create a 60 million gallon reservoir at the Duke of Grafton’s Euston Estate, near Thetford, were delayed to save great crested newts in the location before building work could begin.

And a lone moorhen nested with her young oblivious on a Cambridge bridge brought a massive rebuilding contract to a halt.

A 40-year-old man named Swampy made his name in 1996 when he led hundreds of protesters who chained themselves to trees in protest at the construction of a bypass near Newbury.

Cley warden Bernard Bishop said builders had to hold work by a week to allow the four chicks to hatch.

He said: “Every bird is special but these ones are a bit more special.

“Prior to the work beginning we monitored the site and the birds took the hatched chicks into the field next to the building.”

And after work began last Monday he said the builders have become budding birdwatchers, walking the site each morning to make sure the birds are at a safe distance.

The British Trust for Ornithology spokesman Paul Stancliffe said the little ringed plover nested on the ground, and as a Schedule One breeding bird needed protection.

He said: “You can’t disturb this species without breaking the law.”

But he said waiting a few weeks will ensure the birds hatch and move away.

The centre is being built in memory of local birdwatcher Simon Aspinall who died in 2011, aged 53, after a five-year battle with motor neurone disease.

Have you spotted a rare bird? Email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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