The team of people who are reintroducing a giant bird to Wiltshire say they are going to step up their programme. A ten-year trial to bring Great Bustard chicks to Salisbury Plain has ended - now they are going to increase the number of birds they rear there.
Until now the chicks were brought from Russia, but now they've discovered the Spanish species is actually more like our native one that was killed off nearly two hundred years ago.
Dr. Paul O’Donoghue of the University of Chester undertook a genetic comparison of European Great Bustard populations. He discovered that, contrary to the previously held belief, the Great Bustards in Spain form the closest living population of Great Bustards to the original UK population before its extinction.
The Great Bustard Group collected eggs from the Castilla la Mancha region and transported them to the home of the only public captive Great Bustard enclosure in Britain, Birdworld in Surrey.
Here a team of incubation experts undertook the incubation and hatching of the eggs with excellent results, achieving a hatch rate of over 82% of the viable eggs.
The young chicks were then taken from Birdworld to the GBG Project Site in Wiltshire and reared by Great Bustard Group and RSPB staff.
The young chicks need to be bill fed with a puppet and exercised as they grow. The rearing team wear dehumanisation suits to stop the chicks becoming imprinted on their human foster parents.
David Waters is the director of the Great Bustard Group:-