Stone-curlew populations are bouncing back after suffering massive declines since the 1930s.
These rare, elusive birds traditionally nested on tightly grazed grassland and searched for food such as invertebrates in permanent pasture, but much of this suitable grassland habitat is now farmed. As a result, more pairs are nesting in cultivated fields, and due to the excellent camouflage of the eggs and chicks they are vulnerable to farming practices. This, along with other issues such as being highly susceptible to human disturbance, has seen stone-curlew populations plummet since the 1930s.
Luckily, the population has survived on Salisbury Plain, due to the military training area retaining much of the grassland habitat that stone-curlews love.
Much of the surrounding Wessex landscape was also historically part of the species’ range and still contains potentially suitable habitat for stone-curlews. By working with farmers and landowners in these areas, through creating and managing suitable habitat in order to give the birds the best chance of breeding successfully without disturbance, the population is now spreading and numbers of stone-curlew are increasing – the recovery of stone curlews and the contribution made by farmers and landowners is a modern-day conservation success story.
We believe that the immediate impact and after-effects of building a tunnel to route the A303 under the Stonehenge World Heritage Site threatens part of the recovering population of stone-curlew.