Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Saturday, 7 February 2009

Wetland birds back after decline

Lapwing (RSPB)
A survey by the charity found 80 pairs of lapwings

Wetland bird populations are beginning to recover in Sussex after massive declines, the RSPB has said.

A survey by the charity found 80 pairs of lapwings and 31 pairs of redshanks on Pevensey Levels, near Eastbourne.

The site was also found to be one of the most important in Sussex for yellow wagtails, with 19 pairs recorded.

Spokesman Bruce Fowkes said: "After suffering massive declines, this report shows wetland bird populations on the levels are beginning to recover."

The Breeding Waders of Wet Meadows Survey suggested a "considerable increase" of birds compared with 2002 levels, he added.

Mr Fowkes said previous surveys had not been "as comprehensive", and this latest study would "set out a definitive baseline against which we can measure future progress".

He said the decline had been linked to changes in land use after wet grassland was drained to grow cereal crops.

But recent years had seen the return of wet grassland because of special grants being made available, and the determination of farmers to return the land to its former use.

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