Prince Charles sees release of Eurasian curlews on Sandringham Estate

Prince Charles visited Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to release Eurasian curlews.

Prince Charles visited Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to release one of the county's most threatened species - the Eurasian curlew. - Credit: Martin Hayward-Smith

Prince Charles was in Sandringham today to witness a "significant milestone" in the recovery of one of the county's most threatened species.

The Prince of Wales was joined by Natural England chair Tony Juniper on Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to see the release of Eurasian curlews which have been reared by conservationists. 

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 with around 58,500 pairs.

Eurasian Curlews released on the Sandringham Estate

Eurasian Curlews released on the Sandringham Estate - Credit: Martin Hayward-Smith

But Natural England said 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."

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


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The project collected 147 eggs from airfields, where nesting curlew presented a serious risk to air safety - 106 of the eggs were transported to a new purpose built rearing facility at Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, and 41 were taken by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust for a project in Dartmoor.

Prince Charles visited Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to release Eurasian curlews.

Prince Charles visited Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to release one of the county's most threatened species - the Eurasian curlew. - Credit: Martin Hayward-Smith

Chicks have been released at Sandringham Estate and Wild Ken Hill, and some of the birds have been fitted with GPS or radio tags by the British Trust for Ornithology to help gather information on their dispersal, habitat use and survival.

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The Natural England chair said: “Today’s release on the Sandringham Estate marks a significant milestone for the recovery of this iconic bird.

"We’re proud to be leading such an innovative project, which will not only improve the prospects of curlew in Norfolk, but will help inform action to recover curlew across England. It is a fine example of the kinds of partnerships that will be needed to achieve nature recovery more widely and as such we hope will be an inspiration for much more of the same.”

Chrissie Kelley,  head of species management at Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, said conservation of the Eurasian curlew as a breeding species in England is of "paramount importance" and that the trust's involvement was a significant step to safeguard and boost the wild population in the East of England.

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