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Lord Bolton's Team Wins Bellamy Award

The prestigious NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award has been won by the team from Lord Bolton’s estate: Tom Orde-Powlett (Lord Bolton’s son, pictured centre), Ian Sleightholm (head keeper, pictured left), and Daniel Place (underkeeper, not present), in recognition of the conservation work they do for curlews.

The Countryside Live event at Blenheim Palace was the stage for the presentation on August 1st, when NGO Educational Trust Administrator Brian Hayes (pictured right) awarded the trophy.

Ian Sleightholm said: “Helping curlews is our number one conservation task on the estate. It’s been hugely satisfying to see our hard work pay off when we see more breeding pairs, and this award means a lot to the team.

We estimate that we have 170-220 pairs of breeding curlews and between 200 and 700 birds in the over-wintering flocks, occasionally sighting over 1,000.”

Whilst the national population of curlew has suffered a massive decline, the conservation work by the team at Lord Bolton’s estate is clearly reversing that trend.

Together with conservation partners, the team has colour-ringed 41 adults and around 15 chicks. There have been over 100 re-sightings of tagged birds, the furthest being Roscarberry in County Cork. With the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) they have monitored nests and developed a new method called ‘trapline surveying’, which helps to identify areas where curlew conservation practices are working.

Lord Bolton’s estate was singled out by the BTO because of its extensive conservation work for curlews and it was recognised that on the grouse moors of Wensleydale, where predator control provides protection for young grouse chicks, waders breed at higher densities than on moors without predator control.

The estate team organised a Curlew Festival in 2017 and 2018 which raised awareness of the birds’ plight and brought together interested groups to discuss how to help curlews.

Brian Hayes, of the NGO Educational Trust, which organises and funds the Award, said: “We are thrilled to acknowledge the work they have put in to conserve and support curlews at Lord Bolton’s estate through habitat and population management.”

Liam Bell, NGO Chairman, said: “This achievement highlights the exceptional work of moorland gamekeepers and shooting estates, who rarely get acknowledged for their conservation work on these moorland landscapes. Without their expertise and passion, our uplands would be much poorer places in terms of biodiversity and wildlife.”

The prestigious trophy is made from a piece of bog oak, which is many thousands of years old. It was presented to the NGO-ET by the NGO Patron, Professor David Bellamy, to symbolise the enduring nature of mankind’s relationship with the living landscape.

The NGO-ET’s Bellamy Award started in 2010 and recognises those who display exceptional creativity and initiative in promoting sustainable land management.

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Posted: 04 Aug 2019

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