Bird protection

Hector MacLean (Letters, 
2 March) is right to draw attention to the rapidly diminishing numbers of wader birds, plovers and ground-nesting birds generally. Living in the countryside, I have, sadly, observed the disappearance of curlews, plovers and oystercatchers over the past 20 years. The reason is not far to seek. The area abounds with carrion crows and magpies and these predators quarter the grassland in spring and early summer, thriving on a diet of wader birds’ eggs and chicks.

By contrast, on the other side of the Cleish Hills from me, a farmer of my acquaintance has cleared his 500 acres of the crow family with the aid of a Larsen trap, a legal and selective means of saving the springtime delight of curlews and plover that inhabit his arable and pasture. His woodlands, magpie-free, are a haven of songbird survival. No-one wants to see the extinction of our noblest crow, corvus corax, or any species of wild bird, but a 
balance between predator and prey must be struck in the countryside where modern agriculture has so disadvantaged ground-nesting and song birds.

Alastair Harper

by Dunfermline, Fife