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Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 09:50 GMT
Rare bird eggs get 24-hour guard
Black-tailed godwits - picture taken by Gordon Langsbury
Two pairs of the birds nested at the site last year
One of the UK's rarest breeding birds is to be watched around the clock to stop its eggs from being stolen.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) wants volunteers to help keep an eye on the black-tailed godwit nests at Newton Marsh, Lancashire.

The wardening rota will run from mid-April to the end of May.

Last year, two pairs of the birds nested at the site, which is between Preston and Lytham St Annes, and successfully hatched six eggs.

The bird watch is supported by Lancashire police and the Fylde Bird Club.

Carol Coupe, RSPB project officer, said: "In the past these birds have been the target of cruel thieves, who steal the eggs of rare birds and kill the growing chick inside, then conceal the empty shell, only bringing it out to show off to other egg thieves.

Prison sentence

"Our aim is to provide round-the-clock protection to give the birds the best possible chance to breed successfully and raise their young.

"The more pairs of eyes we have watching over the nests then the more likely we are to be able to repeat the successes of previous years, when black-tailed godwits on the Ribble estuary reared almost all their young."

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, anyone taking eggs from the nest of a black-tailed godwit could face a fine of up to 5,000 per egg and an overall prison sentence of six months.

Disturbing the nest, parents or any dependant young would also carry the same maximum sentence.

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