Bowie the Curlew flees from fireplace – however has his luck run out?

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Scientists from the British Belief for Ornithology (BTO) and College of East Anglia have tracked a Curlew on a tremendous journey that recorded its shut shave with an enormous wildfire in central Portugal.

The Portuguese authorities plans to construct an airport on the Tagus Estuary, the place Bowie is now, in a transfer opposed by campaigners.

Bowie (named after his tag quantity, B/OW-OY) was fitted with a GPS tag in Norfolk this spring as a part of an investigation into the causes of Curlew decline within the UK. He’s now on his non-breeding grounds on the Tagus Estuary, an internationally vital wetland below risk from controversial plans to construct a brand new airport.

The Tagus Estuary hosts as much as 200,000 birds in winter and 300,000 on migration, amongst them big numbers of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit, in addition to Higher Flamingos, Shiny Ibises and Purple Swamphens. Knowledge from Bowie’s tag present that he’s at the moment on the centre of the proposed airport website. If the event goes forward, campaigners say, the mixed impacts of habitat destruction and noise air pollution will spell catastrophe for biodiversity within the area and additional afield.

Eurasian Curlew, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries

Bowie left the UK at dusk on 14 July, arriving in northern Spain the next lunchtime. From right here, his path to the Tagus Estuary set him on a collision course with an enormous wildfire burning near the Portuguese city of Ourém, 140km from Lisbon. As he approached the fireplace, Bowie made a pointy westward flip and started to achieve top. Having cleared this explicit impediment, he arrived on the Tagus estuary in time for breakfast on 16 July.

Though the UK is residence to 1 / 4 of the worldwide Curlew breeding inhabitants, numbers right here have shrunk by half since simply 1995. The vast majority of UK Curlews migrate in a south-westerly course after breeding. Most find yourself in Eire or southern England, whereas some make it to the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. Bowie will in all probability spend the winter on the Tagus Estuary earlier than returning to Norfolk subsequent spring.

Dr Samantha Franks, lead scientist on BTO Curlew conservation work, mentioned: ‘Curlew within the UK face habitat loss and predation stress on their breeding grounds, which severely hamper their means to efficiently elevate the subsequent technology of younger birds. Bowie’s migration from Norfolk to the Tagus estuary reveals that our internationally vital inhabitants of breeding Curlew additionally is determined by a global community of protected websites. Throughout Europe, these are below risk from habitat loss, coastal improvement and local weather change.’

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