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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK
Rare birds thrive at nature park
Bearded Tit - pic courtesy of Dean Eades
The birds' nests are protected by wigwams made of reeds
One of the rarest birds in the UK, the bearded tit, is thriving at a nature reserve in Lancashire.

Wardens at Leighton Moss, near Carnforth, Lancashire, said they had seen the most successful breeding summer in a number of years.

There are fewer than 500 pairs in the UK, but this year 30 pairs nested at Leighton Moss, raising about 80 young.

The birds nest in reedbeds and are known as fussy creatures as they are very particular about where they live.

It's great news that these delightful birds are bouncing back
David Mower, RSPB Leighton Moss warden
The RSPB said Leighton Moss was one of only a handful of places in the country where the sparrow-sized birds nest.

In 2001 there were as few as 10 pairs of the birds nesting in the park, but staff there have put out grit and wigwams to encourage them to make Leighton Moss their home.

The grit is used to help the birds digest the seeds they feed on in the winter months.

In the summer, they live on insects found in the reedbeds.

The wigwams are made from reed bundles tied around a broom handle and help protect the birds from fluctuating water levels that can wash their nests away.

RSPB Leighton Moss warden, David Mower, said: "It's great news that these delightful birds are bouncing back at Leighton Moss and we're delighted that they have had a successful breeding season."


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