Against all odds - round the clock guard for rare chicks

Thursday 26th May 2011


Two avocet chicks have hatched their way into Northumberland’s record books at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Cresswell Pond reserve.

The black and white wader with a long, thin, curled beak was extinct in Britain for many years, mainly due to the reclamation of its saltmarsh and saline lagoon coastal habitats, and persecution from skin and egg collectors.

Until now, the most northerly breeding site for avocets was the Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, on the banks of the River Wear.

This has now all changed with the arrival of two chicks yesterday evening at Cresswell Pond (behind Druridge Bay) in Northumberland. A first for Northumberland.

Not ones to do anything by halves, the birds have been nesting on a sand spit on the pond’s edge so for the past three weeks staff at the wildlife charity have been holding their breath in case the heavy rain swept the nest away; to make matters worse, avocets usually nest in colonies for protection against predators, so the isolated Northumberland nest was very vulnerable.

To ease matters, the Trust and Northumberland County Council used a JCB machine to clear the pond’s drainage channel to lessen the risk of flooding danger.

Police have been informed about the chicks and Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Druridge Bay warden and volunteer team will be guarding the chicks round the clock. Can any visitors to the reserve please ensure they keep the gate shut, and be considerate when parking to avoid obstructing neighbouring farm traffic.