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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Farmer puts birds before profits
Lapwing   Image: RSPB
Lapwings are a common farmland bird, but numbers are waning
A farm manager has won a top award for putting the welfare of a rare bird species before profits.

Steve Mumford, from Lower Farm in Narborough, Norfolk, is The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' Lapwing Champion 2007.

He received his award at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Mr Mumford and his team of 15 staff have spent the past five years adapting grasslands to provide nesting and feeding sites for lapwings.

All decisions on cropping are now based on the birds rather than economics, he said.

Whole fields have been left fallow because they have attracted too many nesting lapwings for the farm work not to harm them - one field this year had 27 pairs.

We plough around nests of any ground-nesting bird we find
Steve Mumford

Three fields have been taken out of production permanently and are now grass and wetland areas, giving the lapwings the conditions they seek.

Mr Mumford said: "As a result of all the work, lapwing numbers have jumped from 30 pairs in 2002 to 54 pairs this year.

"We've also had two stone-curlew pairs at Lower Farm for the first time and many of my farm workers are avid bird-watchers now.

"We plough around nests of any ground-nesting bird we find."

The farm is owned by Chris Knights who has backed the project and Mr Mumford said: "We aren't influenced by fashion or fads, or Government incentives, so we are really delighted to have won the RSPB's award."

Andy Cotton, agriculture adviser for the RSPB, said: "Lower Farm is a first-class example of how an arable farm with top grade productive soils and high-value crops can operate in a commercial environment and also benefit wildlife."


SEE ALSO
Attempt to save declining lapwing
07 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Threatened bird returns to farm
03 Jul 06 |  Tayside and Central
Wetland birds hit hard by drought
19 Jul 05 |  Science/Nature

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