'Grieving' Queen seeks 'gladness in the sound of the Curlew' with conservation project


    Her Majesty, 95, has agreed to provide sanctuary for the endangered species on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Conservationists have collected eggs laid by curlews on RAF bases across the nation in an attempt to preserve their dwindling numbers. The reared chicks will be released in Sandringham this coming week in a ceremony attended by the Prince of Wales.

    The curlew is a very large, tall wader and is roughly the size of a female pheasant.

    It is renowned for its haunting display call heard from February through to July.

    The evocative call has been immortalised in the poem, The Seafarer, which dates back to at least 1,000 AD: “I take my gladness in the… sound of the Curlew instead of the laughter of men”.

    The UK is home to about a quarter of the global breeding population – some 58,500 pairs.

    Its breeding grounds are to be found on wet grasslands, farmland, heath and moorlands.

    However, the loss of many of the large open grasslands in the UK has forced curlews to find alternative places to nest.

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    However, this year eight RAF and civilian airfields took part in a conservation project to collect the eggs for Pensthorpe Conservation Trust in Norfolk.

    A total of 84 chicks will be released in Sandringham and nearby Wild Ken Hill over the summer.

    Experts hope the birds will settle and thrive in their new habitats and help spur a revival in numbers.

    The Queen has begun her traditional summer break at Balmoral in Scotland where she is “grieving” Prince Philip, who died in April, sources say.


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