Prince Charles will see endangered birds released at Sandringham

aw curlew

One of the first curlews to be released at Wild Ken Hill as part of a new conservation project - Credit: Wild Ken Hill

Prince Charles will be in Norfolk today to see the release of endangered birds reared by conservationists.

A new partnership has been launched to help save the curlew, one of England's most threatened birds

A new partnership is working to help save the curlew, one of England's most threatened birds - Credit: Tom Cadwallender

The curlew is Europe’s largest wading bird and is now red-listed, meaning it is of the highest conservation priority, needing urgent action. The UK is home to roughly a quarter of the global breeding population of curlew – some 58,500 pairs – but the species has suffered very significant declines since the 1970s due to loss of habitat and predation, with lowland England experiencing some of the most severe declines.

Now a partnership including Natural England, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, the Sandringham Estate and Wild Ken Hill is hoping to help restore their numbers.

Curlew eggs being incubated after they were collected from airfields.

Curlew eggs being incubated after being collected from airfields. - Credit: Pensthorpe Conservation Trust

It collected 106 eggs from military and civil airfields, where nesting curlew presented a serious risk to air safety, and transported them to a new rearing facility at Pensthorpe. Some 84 chicks fledged and are now ready to be released at Wild Ken Hill and Sandringham.

Some of the birds have been fitted with GPS or radio tags by the British Trust for Ornithology, so their progress can be monitored after they are released, gathering information on their dispersal, habitat use and survival.

curlew release

Dominic Buscall (far right) and his father Harry (second right) watch as some of the first curlews are released at Wild Ken HIll, near Snettisham - Credit: AWPR

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Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this vital national effort to recover one of our most beloved and threatened birds. This is a large project with many great organisations working together - our contribution at Wild Ken Hill is to provide the young curlew excellent habitat and safety from predators. We hope they can survive to link up with the hundreds of adult birds that usually spend the winter here."

Prince Charles warned that modern intensive agriculture is threatening the environment and the survi

Prince Charles will be in Norfolk to watch curlews being released at Sandringham on Tuesday - Credit: Denise Bradley

Natural England chair Tony Juniper will accompany Prince Charles at today's release at Sandringham, and said it marked "a milestone" for the species' recovery.

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He said: “The decline of the curlew is one of England’s most pressing conservation issues. The Eurasian curlew has suffered significant declines over the past 40 years, and thanks to the translocation of curlew at a scale which has never been undertaken before, we hope to make a real difference to the population in the east of England."

Wetlands seen from the air at Wild Ken Hill

Wetlands seen from the air at Wild Ken Hill, which is one of the locations where the curlews will be released - Credit: AWPR

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