You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
Blogger: Erica Howe, Communications Manager
How could you ever turn down these eyes? To some, they appear beady, marble-like in their attempt to be as secretive as possible. Never giving anything away through fear of being found. To others, they expose an air of vulnerability. An infant-like feeling of helplessness. A colleague of mine thinks that their look is 'bewildered'. But to me, these eyes are much more than that.
Stone-curlews are a strange mixture of gawky and fascinating. With a beak that looks like it's been dipped in black paint and extraordinary yellow eye make-up you would be forgiven for wondering where on earth you might find such a strange creature. Certainly not around these parts? That's not entirely true. In fact, we are lucky enough to be able to see them practically on our doorstep.
But, backtrack to 1940 and these birds would have been a rarity, in fact, more dramatic than that - they were on the verge on extinction. With only 150 pairs left in the whole of the UK, you would've been lucky enough to have heard their eerie call seeping from the Norfolk landscape, let alone actually see one.
Fast forward to 2011 and it's a rather different picture. The RSPB and many others; farmers, conservation groups, landowners and authorities have been celebrating the success of this bird. The massive undertaking to turn the fortunes of the stone-curlew has not been a smooth journey, but thanks to dedication and a lot of hard work, the population in the UK now stands at 370 pairs. And what is even more staggering, is that two thirds of this population live right here, in the Brecks.
Now, I know what you're thinking, that you've never seen one so there can't be that many? Stone-curlews are incredibly secretive and very easily disturbed. They're easiest to locate at dusk, when their haunting call can be heard across the Brecks. They use this time to feed on insects, something that their yellow eyes come in handy for!
A huge thanks must go to the local farming communities who have worked closely with the RSPB to manage their land in a way that encourages stone-curlews to nest and breed. With so much of their natural habitat being lost to development, this co-operation is vitally important. With the advice of the RSPB, local farmers have finely managed their land so that it is prosperous for farm wildlife, food production and farm businesses.
It is this vein of hope that I can see shining through the stone-curlew's deep, yellow eyes. A sense of hope and anticipation for what lies ahead. But fingers crossed, we will long be able to appreciate these magnificent birds right in the heart of our countryside.
Article in Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 26th March.
Photo Credit: Stone Curlew by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)