Black-tailed godwit chicks born at WWT Welney. Courtesy of WWRare wader chicks thrill visitors to WWT Welney Wetland Centre
June 2013. Black-tailed godwit chicks are some of the rarest young birds in the country. These chicks hatched on the Ouse washes at WWT Welney Wetland Centre this spring, and they are the only ones in the whole of Norfolk and amongst just a handful throughout the UK.
5 pairs of black-tailed godwits at Welney
Up to five pairs of black-tailed godwits have nested at WWT Welney Wetland Centre in recent years. These birds rely on very specific wetland conditions provided by sites like the Ouse washes and Lady Fen.
Steve Wiltshire, Warden for WWT Welney Wetland Centre, says: ‘Providing the ideal habitat for these birds is incredibly challenging, so it is nice to see the hard work of the whole team rewarded. The adult black-tailed godwits are long-legged birds with a long beak and a brick-orange plumage making them quite an attractive-looking bird. The smaller chicks look like little balls of fluff following the parents around'
‘The adults make a distinctive alarm call if a bird of prey like a harrier should fly over, they make this call to make the other bird and chicks aware of the potential danger. This also helps our visitors pin-point where they are.'
Dr Nigel Russell, Lead Conservation Advisor for Natural England, says: ‘News that 3 black-tailed godwit chicks have successfully hatched on the WWT reserve this year is a real fillet to all those concerned with the unique wildlife of the Ouse Washes. Keeping the washes in tip top condition to suit this scarce breeding bird requires long-term, targeted management to an established recipe, management supported by a new, ten year Higher Level Stewardship agreement between WWT and Natural England'
‘Our shared goal is to benefit the specialist wildlife for which this corner of Norfolk is nationally and internationally important, so news that godwits have had breeding success in 2013 marks a very welcome start to the agreement.'
Visitors are able to see these beautiful chicks from the hides with the aid of binoculars or scopes. Binoculars can be hired from the centre, so visitors do not need to worry if they don't have their own. WWT Welney Wetland Centre is open 9.30am - 5pm daily through the summer.