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In 1997, only 11 known booming males of this specialist reedbed bird were left in Britain, due to the loss of coastal wetlands. Thanks to a conservation collaboration between the RSPB and others, there are now around 150 issuing their foghorn call over wetlands in Norfolk, Suffolk, the Fens and Somerset.
2) EURASIAN BEAVER
These riparian architects were hunted to extinction in Britain 400-500 years ago. Now, thanks to the success of a trial on the Knapdale Estate in Argyll, they’ve been given leave to stay and Government protection, making them the first mammals to be officially reintroduced to the UK landscape. In Devon, a wild breeding population is living on the River Otter and is being monitored by the Devon Wildlife Trust.
3) HAZEL DORMOUSE
Although not out of the woods yet – in a manner of speaking – the star of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the subject of an action plan that has slowed its decline. Wildlife Trusts in southern England and Wales are providing nestboxes and managing woodland to increase numbers of this slow-breeding rodent.
4) CIRL BUNTING
This classic bird of West Country fields and natural grasslands had suffered badly from hedge removal, pesticide use and autumn planting doing away with stubble fields for foraging. By 1989, it had dwindling to 118 pairs in Devon. Thanks to wildlife-friendly farming schemes, numbers have risen to 1,078 pairs in Devon and 65 pairs in Cornwall.
The loss of species-rich grasslands and consequent decline in vital pollinators has caused concern. So the project to return this native bee species to the southeast of England and re-establish suitable habitats for it to prosper has been welcomed.
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