Eastern England stone-curlew recovery project

The objective of this project is to reverse the decline in the number of stone-curlews in eastern England.

Stone-curlew at Winterbourne Downs RSPB reserve


The objective of this project is to reverse the decline in the number of stone-curlews in eastern England. The national stone-curlew population declined from up to 2000 pairs in the 1920s to just 168 pairs in 1991. 
Having lost much of their preferred rabbit grazed grass-heath, most stone-curlews in eastern England now nest on arable land, where intervention from fieldworkers and farmers is required to prevent destruction of eggs and chicks.
Stone-curlews are found in areas with light, free draining, stony soils. In eastern England these are the sandy soils of Norfolk and Suffolk and the chalky soils of south Cambridgeshire, North Hertfordshire and North Essex. We would be very pleased to offer free advice to any farmers in these areas wishing to provide habitat for stone-curlews.


We hope to achieve a sustainable and healthy sized stone-curlew population through the following measures;

  • Work with farmers to protect nests and chicks on arable land.
  • Assist farmers with environmental scheme applications and ongoing management in order to establish a network of 'safe' stone-curlew nesting areas.
  • Encourage & support the restoration and creation of grass-heathland habitat for stone-curlews.
  • Seek long term protection for key habitats.
  • Support the development of agri-environment and other long term mechanisms.


Key Dates

  • 1985 - Start of stone-curlew Recovery Project.
  • 2005 - National population over 300 pairs.
  • 2009 - Stone-curlew moved from 'Birds of Conservation Concern' red list to amber list.
  • 2012 - National Population exceeds 400 pairs and LIFE+ funded project starts with the aim of reducing dependency on conservation.


Planned Work

Fieldwork to monitor the stone-curlew population and protect nests continues within the four year LIFE+ funded project.


Thanks to the efforts of Farmers, the stone-curlew population was doubled between 1991 and 2006.


Coast on a stormy day

Tim Cowan

Brecks Project Manager, Breckland Stone Curlew

Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Species: Stone-curlew Project status: Ongoing Project types: Species protection