Gamekeepers save stone curlews and turtle doves

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Tony Lowry is a gamekeeper in Hampshire. His shoot gets the stone curlew as a summer visitor. It’s also a working arable farm. That’s bad news for the birds, which are ground-nesters. In summer, part of Tony’s job looking after wildlife on his ground is to go out and save stone curlew chicks from the farm machinery. “If we don’t protect them they will die out in this country,” he says. “It’s not just the stone curlews, it’s everything else here. It’s a pretty special place, with a huge variety of wildlife.”

He’s not the only one saving endangered birds. Graham Denny in Suffolk is managing his shoot so it provides ideal habitat for turtle doves, another summer visitor that has suffered in recent years from shrinking habitat and predation by jays and magpies. “We provide the nesting habitat they need, feed them, look after them and protect them from nest predation by taking out some of the grey squirrels and magpies,” explains Graham, who remembers feeding the birds with his grandfather as a small boy growing up on the farm.

And on the Continent, Dutch shooter Igor Timmermans is using drones with thermal cameras to find and spot roe kids that are in danger of being ground up by foraging machines cutting grass. Igor explains: “We put the fawns in boxes and place them aside. As soon as the farmer is ready we let the fawns loose and in 100 per cent of the cases the doe calls for them and they are reunited.” He reckons he saves 10-15 young deer this way every year.
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