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Breeding black-winged stilts discovered in Cheshire

Last modified: 21 May 2008

Black-winged stilt standing in shallow water facing left

A pair of rare black-winged stilts has just been discovered in Cheshire, many miles from their normal breeding areas in mainland Europe. 

This is only the seventh time stilts have attempted to nest in the UK, having made their home near Marbury Country Park, less than a kilometre from Northwich town centre, Cheshire. We are providing thousands of wildlife lovers a chance to enjoy a rare spectacle.

From 21 May, our 'Aren't birds brilliant!' viewing scheme in partnership with Cheshire County Council will ensure that visitors get the best possible views of this elegant, long legged bird. There will also be around the clock surveillance of the nesting site to ensure the birds are not disturbed.
Stilts, a close relative of the avocet, the RSPB's logo, have extremely long pink legs and a long straight delicate bill. They nest commonly on mainland Europe, but are only rare visitors to Britain and have only bred successfully on four occasions.

We are providing thousands of wildlife lovers a chance to enjoy a rare spectacle.

Stilts made their first attempt to nest in Cheshire in 1993 but bad weather meant that they were unsuccessful. This time the weather has been on their side and early signs are looking encouraging. Experts believe the birds are now incubating several eggs.

Paul Winter, from the RSPB Northern England said; 'Seeing stilts in Cheshire will be a once in a lifetime experience for many visitors to the country park. The first time I saw them, I was astonished at just how long, and pink their legs are.

'The birds' 'knees' are actually in their feathers so the middle bit of their legs is actually their ankles. Stilts' legs are so long that when they sit in the nest their ankles are above their heads!  

'If we are lucky and the eggs hatch, it's going to be quite a sight watching the young learning to walk!'

Andrew Needman, Cheshire's Environment Executive Member said; 'Cheshire County Council is delighted to be working with the RSPB following the sighting of these rare birds at Neumann's Flash.'

'I will certainly be taking along my grandchildren to see the stilts.'

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