Productive year for wading bird

A BIRD once lost to Britain as a nesting species has had one of its best breeding seasons in Suffolk in several years, despite the dry spring.

The avocet, a distinctive black and white wader with a long up-curved bill, has been closely associated with the county for more than 60 years.

It was extinct as a breeding bird in the UK for about 100 years, until nests were found at Minsmere and Havergate Island in 1947.

Both sites were subsequently designated as nature reserves by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which counts the avocet among its most successful conservation projects and even uses the elegant bird on its logo.

The avocet has now bred successfully for the first time at Boyton Marshes nature reserve near Orford, where two chicks have been reared.

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Site manager Aaron Howe said: “This is a great reward for our recent work to create a new habitat at Boyton, including shallow pools to attract wading birds.

“It’s particularly pleasing as this is the first time avocets have nested successfully on our Havergate Island reserves for several years.”

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A further 34 chicks fledged from 110 nests at Minsmere nature reserve, including the first successful nesting on the shallow pools on the Minsmere Levels, where 13 chicks were reared from 13 nests.

Minsmere’s wetland warden Robin Harvey said: “Traditionally, avocets at Minsmere have nested on the shallow lagoon known as the Scrape.

“It’s great to see the colony spreading to new areas with some success, as this could signal an upturn in recent fortunes.

“It’s even more surprising given the exceptionally dry weather this spring.

“Avocets now breed widely throughout eastern England and locally in other areas, although Suffolk remains one of the best places to see them.”

Once the birds have finished nesting, they move to the estuaries in Suffolk and Essex, many of which have flocks of several hundred birds.

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