Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 16:32 UK
Rise of Read's Island rare bird, the avocet
Avocet bird
Avocets thrive in the isolated and wet environment of Read's Island

Conservationists have been working to bring back one of Britain's rarest birds.

Since the early 1990's, the Humber Estuary has been a stronghold for the avocet.

Read's Island, situated near the south bank, was considered as one of the UK's most important breeding sites for the species.

The scientific name for the rare avocet is Recurvirostra avosetta.
Avocets were on the brink of extinction until a major conservation brought them back in the 1940s.
They are famously recognised as the RSPB's emblem.
The elegant black and white wading birds nest in open areas surrounded by water.
Humber's population of avocets makes up 10% of the overall UK figure of 1,500 pairs.

The island's salty pools are ideal for breeding, while the Humber Estuary mudflats offer a rich source of food for young fledgling avocets.

However in 2007, disaster struck when strong tide washed away parts of the island, causing the largest colony on the Humber to collapse leaving only 50 breeding pairs.

Since then, a conservation project has helped to reverse the dramatic decline of the colony and now the number of avocets has returned to its original size of 200 birds.

"The avocets couldn't nest because the island was completely covered - on most tides - with water and that washed away the eggs when they tried to nest," said Pete Short, the RSPB's Humber Site Manager.

Avocet mother with chick
Only 50 breeding pairs survived the high tides of spring 2007

"So we created conditions that actually prevented that so that the birds could lay their eggs and hatch their young."

With a £50,000 grant, the RSPB have rebuilt 10 hectares of Read's Island creating deep feeding pools in order to protect avocet nests from high tides during the breeding season.

"The island and the project have been a complete success for the avocets with 250 pairs producing over 200 young and now over a thousand birds are present on the island, which is just brilliant," said Mr Short.

"Fifty thousand pounds isn't really a lot to save such an iconic species as the avocet. There's also lots of other benefits for over 20,000 waders and wildfowl on the Estuary that roost on their and need it for feeding in winter."

Helpers needed to protect avocets
16 Apr 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
Breeds thrive at nature reserve
25 Dec 09 |  Cambridgeshire
Rare bird is spotted by schoolboy
16 Oct 06 |  North east




Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific