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Staff and volunteers at Northward Hill expect to see baby Lapwing boom thanks to donations

Staff and volunteers at a Medway nature reserve are expecting to see a boom in the number of young lapwings next year, thanks to donations of more than £90,000.

The cash, from landfill tax, grants and donations, has paid for more than 2,000 metres of fencing which will protect the eggs of ground nesting birds and their feeding area at Northward Hill in Cooling.

Site manager Julian Nash, said: “This generous funding has allowed us to safeguard an area equivalent to 34 football pitches on Richardson’s Marsh, an area of the reserve heavily used every year by breeding waders such as lapwing and redshank.

A Lapwing chick at Northward Hill, Cooling. Pic: Martin Lane
A Lapwing chick at Northward Hill, Cooling. Pic: Martin Lane

“We do enjoy success here, but this fence will make a huge difference and will mean that vulnerable eggs and chicks have a far greater chance of life.”

The lapwing, also known as the peewit because of its call, was once a familiar farmland bird but has suffered significant declines recently and is now a Red List species.

The funding comes as part of the RSPB’s Greater Thames Futurescape programme which aims to improve the whole estuary for nature and visitors.

They received £67,727 from FCC Environment, formerly the Waste Recycling Group, £12,112 from Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust (ICET) £2,000 from the Douglas Glanfield Memorial Trust and £500 from the Kent Ornithological Society.

Ben Walker, grant manager for Waste Recycling Environmental, said: “We are pleased to have played a part in the delivery of this internationally important project to protect and increase the number of breeding wader pairs at the site, as well as improve the survival rate of the eggs and chicks for future generations.”

Angela Haymonds, secretary of ICET said: “The trustees were delighted to fund this important project that helps halt the declining number of lapwings on the reserve. This is a species native to the UK and creating predator-free nesting habitats will help the population grow.”

Mr Nash added: “Working with others like these funders and landowners, we are confident we can save species like lapwing so future generations can witness and enjoy the sight of their wings flashing in the sun as they wheel across the skies over the Thames in huge flocks.”

Northward Hill is open all year and entry is free.

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