First wild bred chick of the season joins the Drove

Posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2016

A wild bred chick has joined a drove of Great Bustards in Wiltshire. The female chick has been brought up by a Russian sourced female released in 2011. This female successfully reared a male chick last year, and this young bird is regularly seen.

The GBG is hopeful that this chick will be the first of several to successfully fledge this year. There are two more females with a single chick each which should now be big enough not to be troubled by any bad weather. There is another with a smaller chick and one female incubating eggs. The likelihood is that this last nest is a second clutch for a first time breeder who lost her chicks after a few days.

It is not unusual for young inexperienced females to loose their chicks during their first breeding attempts, but with luck we will see further success this year. The follow on is that next year should be even better.

Categories: Great Bustards

David Waters

Posted by David Waters

David Waters is the founder and director of the Great Bustard Group.

4 Responses to “First wild bred chick of the season joins the Drove”

  1. Andy Adcock says:

    When will these birds be considered as ‘native’ and start appearing in population, census data?

    What’s the estimated population in the UK now?

    My question is prompted by a Q on Birdforum, see link.

    • David Waters says:

      At the start of this spring we had a population of around 40 birds. With a successful breeding year and 14 more birds to be released which were reared from eggs collected in Spain that number will rise. We may be at a point of self sustainability now, but if so, if is very fragile. A number of 100 is one we regard as a reasonable target to allow self sustainability with room for the odd hiccup.
      I would imagine the government departments would want to see a couple of generations of wild breeding chicks before they would regard the Great Bustard as a native species. Currently we have wild bred chicks, but they have not yet bred themselves. Females need to be at least two before they will breed, and many commentators suggest 3 or 4 years.
      As to when listers can tick them – well I would say when they wish. It seems a shame to devalue one of the most spectacular birds in the world because it does not represent a score in a listing competition.

      • Howard F says:

        Thanks that’s fascinating and really wonderful to hear such a positive outlook. I’ve been following your impressive work from afar since the beginning – must visit sometime!
        Am I correct interpreting your response that there is a single chick from 2015 surviving that you are aware of? If so then presumably this is the only known UK bird to have survived it’s all important first year so far? And this year there have been at least 4 nests, but the number of breeding age females is now sufficiently high to be optimistic for many more nests in the next few years?
        PS I am a twitcher, but far more interested in the conservation and the establishment of a safe population of this globally threatened and iconic species. Keep up the good work!

  2. Darcia Gingell says:

    So delighted to see our first ‘wild’ Great Bustard while travelling across the Plain. Saw 6 in total & what a wonderful sight! Im certainly adding them to my list.