As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 12 June 2017

UK first as rare black-winged stilts choose Welney Wetland Centre as breeding ground

Dominic Gilbert

PUBLISHED: 16:18 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:19 31 May 2017

For the first time ever a pair of unusual wading birds, black-winged stilts, have successfully bred in the UK - on the reserve at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.

The species of bird has been a vagrant to the UK for many decades with a handful of nesting attempts in that time. This is the first time the species has successfully hatched chicks at a WWT reserve in the UK.

Black-winged stilts are striking birds to look at, easily identified from other waders with their black & white plumage, thin black bill and long, spindly red legs.

They are normally found around the Mediterranean, nesting within wetland habitat where they feed on insects in the water and mud. When conditions in their normal breeding areas are drier than normal, the birds can be displaced further North to the UK, to find more suitable conditions.

Assistant warden Hetty Grant said: “When the black-winged stilts started nest scraping, mating and then incubating their clutch I was nervous with anticipation, however their rarity in the UK made them a prime target for egg collectors.

“A surveillance team had to be assembled to protect these birds. Due to the unsociable hours I was astounded by the exceptional response of staff and volunteers; an incredible 25 people took part in our stilt watches, covering over 230 hours.


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