Hand-crafted bird sculptures have been flying off the shelves at a north Norfolk art gallery, raising £2,500 for the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper.

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When Steve and Liz Harris, of Birdscapes Gallery, Glandford, heard about the plight of the migratory wading birds at a popular annual bird fair, they decided they wanted to do something to help.

The couple commissioned Sunderland-based artist Karen Fawcett to produce 50 ceramic spoon-billed sandpipers, each one of which is unique.

The sculptures went on sale at £95 each a few weeks ago, with £50 from each sale going to support conservation work.

“There are only around 100 pairs of the birds left in the world; it is so threatened and yet so iconic and, as keen conservationists, we wanted to support the work being done to ensure their survival,” Mr Harris said.

The spoon-billed sandpiper breeds in eastern Russia, where the problems it faces include predators, snow and floods.

Surviving chicks have to migrate 5,000 miles through Japan, North and South Korea and China, to wintering grounds in South East Asia, where it is often trapped for food by poverty-stricken local people.

Organisations working to save the birds include the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which runs a breeding programme at its Gloucestershire headquarters, and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force, which is working on research and conservation.

After meeting ecological consultant Christophe Zochler, who co-ordinates the Task Force, Mr and Mrs Harris approached Ms Fawcett, who, in the space of just a few weeks, designed, produced and delivered the 50 life-size sculptures.

“About half had been pre-ordered and we sold the rest within weeks, enabling us to give Christophe a cheque for £2,500,” Mr Harris said.

“They have been so popular that we are now looking at the possibility of selling more in the future for the same cause.”

For more information about the work being done to support the spoon-billed sandpiper, visit The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust website at www.wwt.org.uk

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