Tuesday June 21st 2016
Conservationists are witnessing record numbers of an iconic bird that has made an astonishing comeback after it was once close to extinction in Britain.
Avocets, the black and white waders that grace the emblem of the RSPB, have been having a record-breaking year at wildlife reserves across the country.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has announced that it has had a record 34 birds at its Washington Wetland Centre in the North East, just a decade after they first returned.
“We’re absolutely thrilled at the number of avocets this year. For the avocets to return year after year is fantastic”
John Gowland, WWT Washington Wetland Centre
It is thanks to a huge amount of work by conservationists to improve habitats for the birds and to protect them from predators. More than £20,000 has been spent on new shingle islands for the birds at Washington.
‘Real conservation success story’
More than 170 pairs were also recorded at the RSPB’s Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent last autumn – one of the highest concentrations ever recorded in Britain.
The RSPB said numbers have also continued to grow at its reserve at Minsmere in Suffolk after the birds returned in 1947 after an absence of more than a century.
Avocets also overwintered at Middleton Lakes in Staffordshire – the first in the county. Frampton Marsh reserve in
Lincolnshire has also recorded its best ever year with 81 pairs compared with zero in 2008. Record numbers were also recorded at the Dee Estuary in Cheshire.
John Gowland, reserve manager at WWT Washington Wedland Centre, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled at the number of avocets this year. For the avocets to return year after year is fantastic and a real conservation success story.”
Around 7,500 of the long-legged birds were thought to be in Britain in autumn. They included a huge wintering colony at Poole Harbour in Dorset, where numbers have risen from 25 to almost 2,000 in just 30 years.