Rare Avocets are breeding at the RSPB’s Medmerry nature reserve for the third year in row.
Around 24 pairs of the graceful black and white birds have nested in the reserve’s stilt pools, an area growing in popularity for the protected species. The RSPB managed site is home to the only known breeding population in West Sussex.
Each pair lays between two and four eggs, and the long legged chicks have already started emerging. The stilt pool is only a short distance away from the footpath, giving visitors incredible views of a species classed as extinct in the UK until 1941.
Avocets first bred at RSPB Medmerry in 2014, with eight pairs taking advantage of the newly created wetland habitat. In 2015 a further 18 pairs nested. Having bred successfully, avocets are often faithful to a site in subsequent years, so it is likely that at least some of the pairs are returning guests.
“This success story is particularly thrilling for us, as the avocet is the emblem of the RSPB and its increase in numbers since the 1940’s represents one of our most successful conservation and protection projects. Conservation work undertaken by staff and volunteers at Medmerry is vital in increasing populations of avocets and other species which are at risk, and it’s wonderful that visitors can get close enough to see the chicks just beyond the protective fence ” Chris Corrigan, RSPB Regional Director.
RSPB Medmerry is the largest managed realignment scheme on the open coast in Europe, and the work undertaken by the Environment Agency since 2011 has created amazing new wetland habitats. Located just outside Chichester, the protected site is vital to many migrating and rare species. Black headed gulls, little ringed plovers and oyster catchers are also nesting in the pools.
Strong nature conservation laws, known as the Nature Directives, require our Government to create places for nature to compensate for important sites where there’s been no alternative to development. Medmerry was created to replace intertidal habitats lost elsewhere in the Solent, and is a perfect illustration of how these laws helped to enable the continued recovery of avocets, the RSPB’S iconic species, which migrate and breed across Europe. Sadly these vital laws are under threat - you can find out more about our campaign to save the Nature Directives here.