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Bread, check. Milk, check. Eggs, check. Rare bird, check...

Last modified: 02 August 2013

Stone-curlew portrait

Image: Steve Round

Shoppers got more than they bargained for when a disorientated young stone-curlew was found wandering outside a supermarket in Devizes, Wiltshire. 

Stone curlews are one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds and their wary nature, camouflaged plumage and nocturnal habits means they are rarely seen by people in their normal downland habitat and it is incredibly rare to see one in a town. 

The stray bird was found outside an Aldi superstore and taken to a veterinary clinic by a member of the public, believing it to be a young bird of prey. It was then passed to Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital at Newton Toney who cared for the bird. Marilyn Korkis, who runs Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital said “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. It is such an unusual bird and a privilege to see it close up”.

Having realised what the bird was, Marilyn immediately called the RSPB for advice on where to release this rare bird. The RSPB have been running a project in the area to conserve the stone-curlew. This work has been running for over 30 years, and is a partnership between landowners and conservationists, to help maintain and create stone-curlew habitat. 

Nick Tomalin, the local RSPB stone-curlew officer, said “Stone-curlews are highly vulnerable to disturbance, and are usually found in areas well away from roads and footpaths. This bird would have been just learning to fly, so it was essential that it was returned to a suitable location as soon as possible, to be with other stone-curlews. Some birds are now gathering together in roosts before their migration to Southern Spain or North Africa in autumn.”

Nick added “We knew an ideal site to release the bird where the landowner has created some excellent stone-curlew habitat. It is a traditional roost site so is a great home for this youngster”. Since it was returned to its rightful habitat, the young bird has been spotted by RSPB staff feeding in the area with other stone-curlew.

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