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Rare bird brings home potential loss from HS2

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A rare cattle egret that has made itself at home on a Steeple Claydon farm is attracting birders from far and wide.

The bird is roosting in a tree on the Calvert nature reserve owned by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).

But during the day it is to be seen on Elizabeth and Gerald Hodges’ Lake Farm, where it feeds on grubs and insects churned up by the feet of cattle .

Mrs Hodges said she had spoken to visiting birders from as far afield as Derbyshire and Staffordshire who were watching from the road.

Chairman of the Bucks Bird Group, John Gearing, said: “It’s sufficiently uncommon to bring birders from quite a way away. I think its about the fourth in Bucks ever.

“They’re quite common in southern Europe but they’ve only in the last few years started appearing in this country.

“The first one in Bucks appeared in 2002.”

Mrs Hodges said: “We’ve got a lot of wildlife here because we’re on the higher level environmental scheme that Natural England run.”

The scheme involves not using pesticides and running the mixed farm in a traditional pre-war way.

“It’s very, very peaceful here,” said Mrs Hodges.

But that peace is set to be shattered if the proposed high-speed rail line goes ahead, as HS2 plans to compulsorily purchase about half the Hodges’ land and the infrastructure maintenance depot is set to be built between the farm and the nature reserve.

Mrs Hodges has put a notice on her gate to tell visiting birders what would be lost to HS2 and ask them to write to their MPs to prostest against the loss of wildlife habitat.

Mr Gearing said: “There’s no doubt HS2 will destroy habitat. It will certainly clear out a lot of the good birding country.”

 

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