Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Sunday, 15 June 2008 16:40 UK

Birds return after 200 year gap

Avocets became extinct as a breeding species in the UK by 1840

A rare breed of wading bird has returned to the Tees estuary after a gap of at least 200 years.

Two pairs of avocets - striking, black and white, long-legged birds - are rearing a total of eight chicks on a man-made lagoon near Seal Sands.

It is the first time since records began in the 1800s that avocets have successfully nested in the area.

They are the emblem of the RSPB, and there are estimated to be only 1,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

Avocets once nested from the Humber to Sussex but were extinct as breeding species by 1840.

Flooding of East Anglian coastal marshes during Word War II encouraged avocets to return and protection by the RSPB and others has helped numbers increase.

Dave Braithwaite, from the RSPB, said: "We are delighted that avocets are now breeding in Teesside.

"The habitat creation and management that has led to avocets nesting here has drawn a number of partners together with the common vision of seeing wildlife flourish within the industrial landscape of the Tees Estuary.

"It is a real lesson in how, with the right ideas and resources, wildlife can happily co-exist cheek by jowl with industry."

Big Tees bird plan moves forward
17 Nov 04 |  Science/Nature

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