Friday, 13 July 2007

Birthday marks wetland bird boom

SnipeAs it celebrates its tenth birthday, Otmoor RSPB reserve in Oxfordshire is being hailed as a conservation success, according to the RSPB.

In that time, the site has been transformed from 1,000 acres of farmland on the Upper Thames Tributaries into one of the most important wetlands in England where wading bird numbers are booming in defiance of a long-term national decline.

The traditional grazing marsh recreated at Otmoor, near Beckley, is now home to around 90 pairs of breeding waders, including Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew and five pairs of Snipe – more than half the population in central England.

The reserve has now become the core of a wider area of wader habitat, with RSPB staff offering help and advice to surrounding landowners in the Otmoor Basin and financial support from Natural England’s environmental stewardship scheme. Well over 200 pairs of wading birds now breed in the area.

Graham Wynne, RSPB Chief Executive, said: “The achievements at Otmoor are truly inspiring. Through this major restoration project, we have saved the wading bird population in this part of England and proved that we can reverse the habitat losses that centuries of wetland drainage have inflicted on our wildlife.”

The project has been made possible thanks to more than £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund; £450,000 from the Landfill Communities Fund through WREN, Viridor Credits, TOE, Thames Water and SITA Trust. There has also been invaluable support from the Environment Agency, Rural Development Services/DEFRA, Cherwell District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, charitable trusts, RSPB members and local volunteers.

Photo: Snipe by Andy Hay (