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A £230,000 project aims to revitalize habitat for endangered birds at a Buckinghamshire nature reserve, enhancing protection and breeding conditions.

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust has embarked on a significant conservation project to enhance the habitat of endangered birds at Gallows Bridge Farm, Buckinghamshire. Funded by a £230,000 grant from the FCC Communities Foundation, this initiative aims to create a bespoke habitat for curlews and lapwings, two species whose numbers have dramatically declined over the past century.

The project involves installing security cameras, anti-predator fencing, and creating new pools to facilitate a safer and more conducive environment for these birds. Curlews, known for their unique downward-curved beaks and distinct cries, have seen a 48% drop in their UK breeding population between 1995 and 2020. The RSPB's latest statistics indicate only 58,500 breeding birds remaining, earning the curlew a "red" conservation status.

Gallows Bridge Farm has been a longstanding nesting ground for curlews, but their numbers have been limited due to predators. The wildlife trust's strategy includes trimming hedgerows to reduce predatory bird attacks, which will also benefit the brown hairstreak, one of Britain's rarest butterflies.

Mark Vallance, the trust's land manager, said: “The curlew is one of our most bizarre and beautiful birds; it has this iconic, downward-curved beak, and it makes a famous 'cur-lee' cry.”

In addition to curlews, the project will create enclosed nesting areas for other threatened species like lapwings and redshanks. These areas, protected by anti-predator fences, will keep out foxes and badgers. Moreover, the trust and volunteers from the Upper Thames Waders Group will employ night-vision cameras during the nesting season to monitor threats and breeding success.

According to the BBC, the creation of 30 new pools, known as scrapes, will not only benefit curlews but also other wildfowl like wigeon and golden plover, providing them with vital bathing and feeding spots. Furthermore, this habitat enhancement is expected to aid other ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, meadow pipits, and yellow wagtails.

Penny Horne, a spokesperson for the FCC Communities Foundation, expressed excitement about the project's potential to significantly benefit the endangered curlew population and improve the nature reserve for both wildlife and visitors. The foundation, funded by landfill operators, anticipates that this initiative will soon yield positive results for the endangered bird species.

Eunice is a sustainability writer whose passion is sharing accessible eco-friendly practices with GreenCitizen's global readership. She enjoys birdwatching during her downtime, often deriving inspiration from nature's resilience. An enthusiastic cyclist, she is also an ardent advocate of eco-friendly transport.

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