Chicks cause a stir

Avocet photos, credit Will Dawes.
Avocet photos, credit Will Dawes.
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TWO chicks are causing quite a stir at a Northumberland nature reserve after hatching into the record books.

Earlier this month, the Herald reported that two avocets were nesting at Cresswell Ponds, behind Druridge Bay, making it the most northerly breeding site for the species in the UK.

Previously, the black and white waders had only been seen nesting as far north as the Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on the banks of the River Wear.

But despite picking a poor site for their Northumberland nest, on a sand spit on the pond’s edge, the birds have successfully hatched two chicks.

Police have been informed about the chicks and Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s warden and volunteer team are guarding them round the clock.

Staff from the wildlife trust have been keeping a close eye on the nest since the avocets were first spotted in the area in case heavy rain swept their nest away. The birds were also vulnerable to predators due to their isolation as usually they nest in colonies for protection.

The trust worked with Northumberland County Council to clear the pond’s drainage channel to lessen the risk of the nest flooding and the chicks arrived safely last Wednesday.

Avocets, which have a long, thin, curled beak, were extinct in Britain for many years due to the reclamation of saltmarsh and saline lagoon coastal habitats and persecution from skin and egg collectors.