Image of Project Manager Nick Tomalin carrying out fieldwork at one of the nesting plots
The RSPB in Wiltshire are pleased to welcome several new and returning members of staff to the team this spring in order to join the battle to save our farmland species.
It was a very disappointing year for the Stone-curlew team last season, with many fewer Stone-curlew fledging than expected due to poor weather in early spring. Dedicated teams of staff from the RSPB and Natural England have been working hard along with farmers and landowners to help bring the birds back from the brink. Stone-curlew numbers hit an all time low in the 1980s, but the population has been steadily increasing since then as a result of this partnership work. Following two cold and wet springs in 2012 and 2013, both the Wessex and East England stone-curlew populations have struggled to raise chicks, and have left the future of the species hanging in the balance. March 2013 was the second coldest month since records began, and many Stone-curlews returning to Wiltshire from their wintering grounds in North Africa and Southern Europe would have arrived to find the ground frozen solid, with very little invertebrate food available; a devastating shock to an already vulnerable species.
However, 2014 is another year and with a new season ahead we must have an optimistic outlook for the future. The Wessex team are happy to announce that the birds are once again back in Wiltshire with many pairs already incubating eggs. Stone-curlews have already been seen at a number of nesting plots across Salisbury Plain and with the arrival of a new field team, vital monitoring and management advice at the sites will be carried out regularly.
Project Manager Nick Tomalin is delighted to welcome three dedicated and extremely knowledgeable project assistants to help with the tasks ahead this summer. Another Nick (Nick Adams) brings a wealth of experience with him as he used to run the project. Craig used to work on the project as well, and Tom has come to us from working for the Great Bustard Group. There is also a brand new role for the summer, a Community Engagement Officer, which is me (Lindsey)! I shall be working to raise the profile of these unusual and demanding birds through putting on and attending public events throughout the region. We’d like the people of Wiltshire to be proud of our local and rare Stone-curlews and get behind their plight for survival.
If you would like to find out more about the project please look online at rspb.org.uk and search ‘Wessex Stone-curlew Project’ or ‘Winterbourne Downs’. Or if you run an event that you think would benefit from our involvement, please contact Lindsey via Lindsey.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07834792857.