Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 16:08 UK

Return of harrier chicks welcomed

Marsh harrier chicks
Ornithologists are keeping close eyes on the newcomers

The first marsh harrier chicks to have fledged in Northumberland for more than 100 years have hatched in reed beds at East Chevington Nature Reserve.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust ornithologists are monitoring the four birds, which will migrate to Africa when they are fully grown.

Duncan Hutt from the trust said they were the first to be bred since 1880.

He said: "This is a wonderful follow-on from the successful breeding of Ospreys at Kielder after 200 years."

Mr Hutt continued: "The reed beds at the East Chevington reserve where the chicks were hatched are attracting a growing number of birds.

"In addition to marsh harriers, reed bunting and sedge warblers are breeding here and the reed beds along the bay are attracting an increasing number of bitterns in winter.

"We are working closely with local bird recorders to ensure the safety of the chicks but also to monitor the success of other birds here."

The breeding shows the success of the reed beds on the reserve, which are still developing on the site following its return from opencast mining in the 1990s.

A female marsh harrier can lay up to eight eggs but four is the usual clutch.



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