Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Friday, 25 December 2009

Breeds thrive at nature reserve

There are fewer than 900 breeding pairs of avocets in the UK

A nature reserve is celebrating the end of one of its most successful years, topped off by its first ever recorded breeding of avocets.

Wicken Fen, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, was the first nature reserve to be owned by the National Trust when it bought the fen in 1899

Three pairs of avocets bred at the fen over the past year.

Other highlights included stonechats breeding for the first time in 70 years and two pairs of rare bearded tits.

The avocet, a wading bird with black and white markings, normally lives and breeds in shallow coastal lagoons around the coast of East Anglia, but this year three pairs bred at the fen.

Endangered species

The species list for Wicken Fen grew to 8,230 during 2009, making it among the most species-rich reserves in the UK.

New to the list this year are the squacco heron, four species of moth, 43 species of lichen and 35 species of nematode worm.

The trust's landscape restoration project, the Wicken Fen Vision, will see the re-creation of a mosaic of fenland habitats to help protect and conserve endangered species of wildlife.

Dr Stuart Warrington, the trust's regional conservation advisor, said: "We are seeing lots of interesting wildlife colonising the Vision land, especially where we have added water, such as the ditches, ponds and pools.

"These species range from the larger and more visible birds, such as water vole, herons, waders and warbler, down to lots of rare water beetles."

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