Stone Curlew (Stone-Curlew)
Distribution Britain 54 (-41.9%) Ireland 0
Numbers breeding: Britain 203 RBBP Ireland 0
European status: 37,000 (0% in Britain and Ireland)
British population trend: decline turned round in last few years
How likely are you to record it? 9 squares (0.2%) Ranked 151=
The Stone Curlew is really a bird of dry steppe and is right on the edge of its range in Britain. Historically there are records from Dorset through Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and North to eastern Yorkshire but the edges of this range had begun to lose their birds before the end of the 19th century. The loss of heathland to arable was blamed and birds were down in numbers in many areas. The birds fluctuated as crops and cropping patterns changed but the main trend was downwards. The farming slump 70 years ago caused temporary increase but the Yorkshire birds went in 1938. Marginal land was planted with conifer plantations and the depredations of myxomatosis badly affected the birds a lack of rabbits meant that bare areas of ground became overgrown. During the first Atlas they were not found in Lincolnshire but were still breeding along the South Downs, at Dungeness, along the Suffolk coast and in the two main areas North Norfolk through Breckland and down the Chilterns and the downland from Berkshire, through Hampshire and
Wiltshire into Dorset. There may have been as many as 500 pairs. The second Atlas saw further contraction, although there was a female on eggs in Lincolnshire, the population reached a low of 150-160 pairs or less. Very careful and detailed RSPB research has discovered what the birds need and how to deliver it so the population is now increasing and a minimum of 233 pairs bred in 1999. The BDAP target for 2000, 200 pairs, was reached by 1998. Prospects excellent whilst the money to look after them is forthcoming.
Bealey, C.E. et al. 1999 Bird Study: 46, 145-156.
UKBAP MAFF RSPB.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead