Charming chicks

Bill Oddie is looking for stone curlews. Now, the first thing to realise is that this looks like a nice flat field, doesn’t it, so you think a bird would be obvious. But then you realise that it’s long like one great big massive sheet of corrugated iron because it’s full of furrows - and they’re quite deep. So the bird is in there somewhere, maybe several birds and if they’re down in those furrows Bill isn't going to see them, unless he scans up the length of the field. He spots one, then another - a female with her wings outstretched. there are two reasons that a bird of this type might do that: one is that they’re trying to distract a predators since they look as though they’ve got a broken arm, but the other reason is that it’s sheltering a couple of chicks. And that’s exactly what it’s doing and there they are. As well as being well camouflaged and nocturnal stone curlews are notoriously jumpy and shy. That is quite special to actually see a couple of youngsters way out in the open. That’s a first for Bill, seeing a breeding stone curlew with babies. He sees some more - at this time of the year they do form these little flocks. That’s a sign of better times, as a hundred years ago there may have been a couple of thousand stone curlews in the country. When Bill first started trying to see them they were getting fewer and fewer. They got down to something like only about a 130 pairs in the whole country. It’s now up nearer 230 or so. But the majority of them are in Breckland and as it happens, quite a lot of them are on this particular farm because they’re safe here. One of the things Bill likes about the stone curlew is it is a bird that undoubtedly responds to man creating the right conditions, like on a farm like this. It’s when conservation can really be shown to work.

Release date:


4 minutes


Role Contributor
PresenterBill Oddie
Camera OperatorScott Tibbles
Camera OperatorMark Yates
ProducerVicky Webb
ProducerHugh Pearson
Executive ProducerFiona Pitcher

This clip is from

Featured in...