PUBLISHED: 10:27 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:27 13 June 2017
Project Godwit has seen 25 rare black-tailed Godwits hand reared and then released into the Cambridgeshire Fens. The human carers watch as the birds take their first flights to freedom.
Twenty-five rare black-tailed godwits were released into their new home in the Cambridgeshire Fens on Monday by conservationists from RSPB and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) as part of ‘Project Godwit’.
After the eggs were removed from nests and hatched in incubators, staff at WWT Welney Wetland Centre hand-reared the young birds until they were old enough to look after themselves.
It’s the first time the conservation technique, known as ‘headstarting’, has been used in the UK.
The surrogate human ‘parents’ have been able to safely raise far more chicks than the godwits themselves, away from the dangers of predators and flooding.
And, crucially, by removing the eggs from their nests early, they have prompted each pair of godwits to lay a second clutch, giving the parent birds a chance to raise a brood of their own.
Now the hand-reared birds have been released, they are expected to meet up with other black-tailed godwits hatched in the area this summer, and spend several weeks feeding on the rich wetlands before starting their migration to Spain, Portugal and West Africa.