Killing predators helps rare birds

A remote nature reserve in the Norfolk Broads is leading the way in conserving rare bird species by killing predators and regulating water levels.Berney Marshes and Breydon Water Reserve, near Yarmouth, has seen the number of some bird populations soar at the RSPB site - bucking a worrying trend for the rest of the Broads.

A remote nature reserve in the Norfolk Broads is leading the way in conserving rare bird species by killing predators and regulating water levels.

Berney Marshes and Breydon Water Reserve, near Yarmouth, has seen the number of some bird populations soar at the RSPB site - bucking a worrying trend for the rest of the Broads.

By shooting foxes and killing crows and through improving 267ha of wetland, the RSBP has seen the number of breeding pairs of lapwings rise from 12 to 47, redshanks increase from seven pairs to an impressive 34 and snipe go from just two to six pairs.

Berney Marshes' success over the last five years is in stark contract to the rest of the Broads, which has seen


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the same three species dramatically fall over the same period of time - with Snipe down by 94pc, lapwing pairs decreasing by more than a third and redshanks dwindling by 32pc.

The sharp decline in

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bird numbers is being put down to them moving from the threatened countryside to river ways and a breaking up of their natural habitat.

Chris Durdin from the RSPB said: “We are delighted with our success at Berney Marshes - the culmination of 20 years hard work at the reserve.

“Although killing predators is a significant part of that process, the work on maintaining water levels plays a vital role as well.

“However, targeting predators may not be the most appropriate way to help increase bird numbers at the rest of our 17 sites on the Broads.”

Mr Durdin was keen to stress that the statistics about declining bird numbers are for the whole of the Norfolk Broads and not just nature reserves.

The success of the remote Berney Marshes and Breydon Water Reserve, which is visited by 4,000 people a year and has 100,000 pairs of wintering birds, is also due to the fact it has no nesting marsh harriers, which prey on vulnerable species at other sites.

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