'Heart breaking blow' as quad bikers flatten nests on Springwatch beach

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Quad bikers race across the beach at Snettisham, where rare birds nest in the shingle - Credit: RSPB

Rare birds on the estate where Springwatch is being filmed have been put at risk by reckless quad bikers.

Five men were filmed riding at speed across miles of the beach at Snettisham, including part of the foreshore at Wild Ken Hill.

The clip, filmed by the RSPB, shows five quadbikes being ridden across both Snettisham Beach and the RSPB’s Snettisham nature reserve, over several miles of vital nesting habitat for the fast-declining ringed plover, as as well as other birds such as oystercatchers.

The RSPB said the quad bikes flattened nesting scrapes made by the rare plover. It said while no eggs were destroyed, the damage was "a heart-breaking blow" to its efforts to protect the ground nesting birds.

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One of the men filmed riding a quad bike across Snettisham Beach, where rare birds nest - Credit: RSPB

The clip was released after the BBC's flagship nature show began three weeks of live broadcasts from Wild Ken Hill. Springwatch said no-one was available to comment on the incident.

Wild Ken HIll posted on Facebook: "This is incredibly upsetting news, please read the signs and respect the wildlife we are lucky to have here."

Dom Buscall, its project manager, said: "The conservation importance of that site is really high, there are some very rare birds there.

Dominic Buscall, Springwatch Project Manager, at Heacham Bottom Farm. Picture: Danielle Booden

Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, who is looking forward to spreading the rewilding message to a prime time TV audience - Credit: Danielle Booden

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"It's quite shocking in this day and age, when we're all so aware of the state of nature in the UK that damaging behaviour still takes place."

The incident took place in late April, weeks before the Springwatch cameras were set up around Snettisham and presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan arrived to begin broadcasting.

Springwatch presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan being interviews by the local media. Pict

Springwatch presenters Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan at Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk, from where they will be broadcasting Springwatch - Credit: Danielle Booden

The incident happened at the start of the breeding season as the birds were about to begin egg laying.

Ringed plovers create scrapes, shallow holes in the sand and shingle in which to lay their eggs, some of which were flattened by the tyres of the quad bikes.

The rewilding area at the Wild Ken Hill estate in west Norfolk

Guided tours have been launched for visitors to explore the rewilding area at the Wild Ken Hill estate in west Norfolk - Credit: Wild Ken Hill

The species has declined by almost 80pc over the last 35 years in Norfolk, which is now home to just 123 nesting pairs.

All wild birds and their nests are protected by law. Police said anyone witnessing disturbance to birds or their nests should report it.

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