Rare bird sets record at nature reserve

A Norfolk nature reserve is celebrating a bumper visit from a rare migrating bird. Officials from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust spotted more than 60 stone curlews at Thetford Heath over the weekend, forming one of the largest pre-migration roosts in the Brecks.

A Norfolk nature reserve is celebrating a bumper visit from a rare migrating bird.

Officials from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust spotted more than 60 stone curlews at Thetford Heath over the weekend, forming one of the largest pre-migration roosts in the Brecks.

The red-listed bird, which is a high conservation priority, nests in lowland, heathland and arable farmland areas in the summer before heading to warmer climes in the winter,

Darrell Stevens, Breckland field officer for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, said the "astonishing" 62 stone curlews "was a fantastic record for the site and a great spectacle".

The large flock came as the stone curlews prepared to fly to southern Europe and north Africa for the winter.

Mr Stevens said that the 98ha National Nature Reserve, near Thetford, was perfect for the migrating birds because of its grass heath and open spaces. He added that the majority of the site's stone curlews left the area on Monday.

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The trust's reserve at Weeting, near Brandon, has also reported a good summer with high numbers of stone curlews, lapwings and sightings of buzzards and red kites.

The Brecks was recently granted Special Protection Area status because of its home to vulnerable UK birds such as woodlark, nightjar and stone curlew. The area is also said to hold 60pc of the country's stone curlew population.

Thetford Heath, which is three miles south of Thetford, is closed to the public, but reopens at the end of the month.