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.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rare spoon-billed sandpipers lay for first time in captivity

14 June 2016

One of the world's rarest birds - the spoon-billed sandpiper - has laid eggs in captivity for the first time.

Two females laid seven eggs at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

There are only about 200 breeding pairs of the critically endangered species left in the wild.
Nigel Jarrett, from the trust, said when staff discovered the first egg last week they "almost couldn't believe it".

Mr Jarrett, WWT head of conservation, said staff had "done their best" to enhance breeding conditions, with special lightbulbs, timer switches and lots of sand and netting to recreate the experience of migrating from tropical Asia to Arctic Russia.

'Scratching our heads'
"For the last two years - ever since all the spoonies came into maturity - we've been doing everything to get these birds in the mood for love," he said.

"And for two years we've come up scratching our heads and feeling a bit deflated. Now, we've had two mums busy laying and the significance of it is only just starting to hit home."

The WWT began trying to establish a flock at Slimbridge in 2011, as a back-up to the wild population which was declining by up to 25% a year.

But with its extreme lifestyle - including making an annual 10,000-mile round-trip between Russian Arctic breeding grounds and wintering grounds in South East Asia - the bird has never been bred in captivity.

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