Rare Waders Successfully Breed in London

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Four rare Avocet chicks hatched at the Wetlands

Four rare Avocet chicks hatched on Saturday 17 June at the WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes, South West London – the closest breeding location to central London since records began.

Avocets, which became extinct in Britain in the nineteenth century (before re-colonising in the 20th Century), are extremely rare breeders inland, preferring coastal salt marshes and estuaries.

WWT Reserve Manager John Arbon explains: ‘Avocets usually breed on salt marsh and estuaries. We have always had Avocets visiting the London Wetland Centre but thought it was unlikely they would breed here as it is so far inland. But this year a pair kept revisiting the site and eventually chose to nest. Three weeks ago they laid eggs and we have been monitoring them closely ever since. To have Avocet chicks hatch in London is amazing.’

The fact that the adult birds should choose to nest at the WWT London Wetland Centre demonstrates just how successful wetland creation and restoration projects can be in supporting rare wetland wildlife. The 100 acre reserve is one of the best wildlife habitats in the country attracting more than 180 bird species, 9 species of bat, more than 450 species of moth and butterfly – and it is also a stronghold of the increasingly endangered Water Vole.

Visitors to the centre should be able to see the Avocet chicks and parents for the next few weeks until they fledge.

June 26, 2006