Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 16:06 UK

Rare chicks fledged on marshland

Marsh harrier
There are currently 360 marsh harrier females in the UK

A pair of rare birds have been successfully reared on marshland in Kent, according to the RSPB.

The charity said two marsh harrier chicks had recently fledged at the nature reserve in Dungeness.

It is the second year running that the medium-sized hawks have used RSPB Dungeness as a breeding site.

Marsh harrier numbers have been recovering since the UK population fell to one pair in 1971 because of egg collectors and wetland drainage.

Bob Gomes, of the RSPB, said: "Last year improvements we made to reedbed habitat was key to attracting these magnificent birds to our reserve.

He added: "We all held our breath and hoped they'd be back this year and they haven't disappointed.

"It's great we've now got two juveniles hurtling about the place, watching them is just breathtaking."

The RSPB said there were currently 360 female marsh harriers in the UK.

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