Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire The breeding season has started late and male great bustards are still performing their elaborate courtship displays
We follow a pitted farm track over the brow of the hill and into the valley, then climb off-road to the hide. The 38,0000 hectare chalk plateau is a haven for wildlife with its patchwork of close-cropped grass, golden oilseed rape and small strips of soil ploughed bare to create stone curlew nesting plots.
In 1998 the Great Bustard Group began exploring the possibility of reintroducing this vulnerable species, which became extinct in the UK in 1832. Annual releases of imported bustards began in 2004 and the first eggs were laid by reintroduced birds in 2007, but the population is not yet self-sustaining. Although breeding has taken place every year, survival rates are low and not all surviving juveniles are recruited to the adult population. Lekking usually peaks in April, but this year the breeding season started later than usual and I’ve been told that there is still a chance of seeing the males perform their elaborate display.
Source: Guardian Environment