Eggs belonging to rare black-tailed godwits have been rescued after flooding forced tens of thousands of birds to nest away from the safety of wetlands.
April downpours forced huge numbers of birds away from the Fens in East Anglia, as the Ouse and Nene Washes became submerged, leaving them having to nest on unsuitable farmland, conservationists said.
Wildlife experts trying to protect the black-tailed godwit, which nests in very small numbers in the UK, discovered clutches of their eggs on nearby farmland, trapped in the mud, they said.
But “Project Godwit” experts who are working to boost numbers of the rare bird, teamed up with farmers to rescue 32 eggs, which are now being incubated at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s Welney Wetland Centre.
Project Godwit, a partnership between WWT and the RSPB, is using a technique known as “head-starting”, in which eggs are collected in the wild and the chicks raised to fledging in captivity to boost their survival chances.
As well as keeping the young birds away from dangers such as predators and flooding until they are ready to take to the wing, the process can stimulate the adults lay a new clutch of eggs, which also helps boost numbers.