As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 10 December 2018

Bitterns, curlews and lapwings at risk as vital wildlife funds dry up

Bird experts call on ministers to plug gap left by EU grants worth millions of pounds

Sat 8 Dec 2018 16.00 GMT

They are some of the most elusive birds to nest in the UK. Indeed, they hide so well in their reedbed homes that ornithologists can only estimate bittern numbers by counting the sources of the booming sounds made by males in summer. It is a census that has produced alarming results. Only 11 booming bitterns were counted across the country in the 1990s.

But since then the bittern has begun to bounce back – thanks to a remarkable system of EU environment awards called Life grants. One of these, worth €3.9m (£3.5m), has helped ecologists restore the bittern’s reedbeds in South and West Yorkshire and rebuild bittern numbers.

Other threatened species to benefit from Life grants include stone curlews, golden plovers and lapwings, and plants such as the sundew.

But that Life grant system is now under threat itself, and unless a replacement is found a critically important mechanism for saving endangered species will be lost.

“This is an extremely worrying development,” said Alistair Taylor of the RSPB. “The Life fund has played a vital role in holding back destruction of the environment and loss of endangered species. If we lose them, it will make it much harder to stop the rot.”

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