Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017
On Friday 17th March HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Great Bustard Project. His Royal Highness was able to see a drive of 12 Great Bustards feeding on the edge of Salisbury Plain and then visited the GBG viewing hide and was able to see a further male and a female Great Bustard.
The project has established a breeding population of Great Bustards, which had been extinct since the middle of the 19th Century. Initially birds were raised from eggs rescued by the GBG in Russia as this had been thought by academics to be a better genetic match to the original UK stock. A genetic study undertaken for the GBG showed the Spanish birds were a closer match and since 2014 eggs have been collected under licence in Spain. The eggs transported in incubators and then hatched at Birdworld in Surrey. The GBG then undertakes the rearing on Salisbury Plain.
The rearing is complex as the young chicks need to be bill fed, and a puppet is used along with a special suit to disguise the rearing staff. The release phase is a gradual process and the birds adapt to the wild over the summer months.
The population has grown from 10 birds to at least 48 in less than 3 years, and the number of nests has increased dramatically. Two wild bred Great Bustards bred and reared in the wild last year have joined the population. The UK population is now at the point of being self sustaining. There could be as many as 20 nests in the wild this year, but project staff think a figure in the mid teens is more likely - still a huge increase from previous years.
The Prince of Wales was able to meet the project staff who are almost entirely volunteers, the Commandant of Salisbury Plain Training Area Lt Col. Stew Andrews and Torsten Langgemach from Brandenburg based Great Bustard project in Germany who is one of the many international colleagues of the GBG.
The GBG presented HRH with a set of Salmon fishing flies specially tied using Great Bustard feathers. The feathers were naturally moulted from the Great Bustards. The flies were tied by Jon Penny http://www.wildthingflyfishing.co.uk.
The GBG is an independent charitable organization. Further details, and information on visiting the project can be found at www.greatbustard.org
Great Bustard Group David Waters ( Executive Officer) tel 079747 85426 firstname.lastname@example.org
Press photos from the day
Les Wilson email@example.com
Great Bustard Photos
Dave Kjaer tel 07789506138 firstname.lastname@example.org