From our Kent Correspondent
The Director of the UK Pratincole Release Scheme said yesterday that he was very pleased with the progress made so far. Richard Simpson briefed journalists in Kent yesterday evening, following the discovery of a third bird, an Oriental Pratincole Glareoloa maldivarum, earlier in the week.
"There is absolutely no reason why Pratincoles should not become established breeding birds in this country. There is plenty of suitable habitat, and we feel that we have a good chance of success. Thanks to generous support from our strategic partners Shell and British Petroleum, we were able to import a number of birds earlier this year, and keep them in large aviaries to acclimatise until the weather conditions allowed a controlled release. So far we have released single Black-winged, Collared, and Oriental Pratincoles from an undisclosed location in the South-east, and are closely monitoring their progress. We would however greatly appreciate the assistance of the public in the tracking of these birds, and should they spot one there is a hotline number to call."
The scheme is not without its critics though, perhaps most surprisingly from some elements of the bird-watching community, who fear that the release of captive-bred birds will add confusion to assessing sightings of genuinely wild birds. Other "twitchers", as they are known, don't necessarily share this view. Yesterday evening at Dungeness RSPB reserve, where the final bird was found, Martin, who declined to give his last name, of Hornchurch, Essex, there with his son said "Whatever, not really bothered, I'll tick anything." His son, Jamie, 10, added "Yeah, including Falcated Duck. Can we go now?"