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Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Tuesday, 3 August 2010 08:29 UK
First sighting of Nottinghamshire marsh harrier chicks
Marsh harrier chick sitting on a willow tree at Langford Lowfields nature reserve
Numbers are falling due to the draining of the fens and use of pesticides

Nottinghamshire's first marsh harrier chicks have been spotted learning how to fly at Langford Lowfields nature reserve, near Newark on Trent.

Warden Michael Copleston said: "It's fantastic news. I'm so excited. This is good for conservation."

He added that the fledglings are proof that the volunteers hard work to create an extensive reed bed is worth it.

The birds are rarer than the golden eagle and there are only 360 breeding females left in Britain.

The reserve wardens have known they had a breeding pair of marsh harriers for several weeks.

They could tell this by the amount the female bird was feeding and then by the calls of the chicks.

But seeing the young raptors (bird of prey) was more difficult.

"They are right in the middle of this very dense reed bed which is great for protection but it makes it very hard to know what is going on in there," said Mr Copleston.

However, now the two fledglings are very easy to spot as they are resting on the top of some of the small willow trees in the reed beds in between flights.

"They are very shaky on the wing. They are just flapping about, getting a bit stuck in a few places," he said.

Reed bed

Langford Lowfields nature reserve is now home to the most extensive area of reed bed in the East Midlands. It has been hand planted by volunteers over the last five years.

Mr Copleston said: "Building these sorts of habitats inland, where we know we have security with them for the future is very, very good for these species.

"The habitat is getting bigger and better all of the time so over the next few years we'll hopefully see this carry on. These chicks are the first of many, hopefully, for us."

It is unusual to have marsh harries this far west. They are mostly found on the east coast and in Scotland but numbers are falling because of the draining of the fens and use of pesticides.

Reserve tours

Langford Lowfields nature reserve is not presently open to the public but the RSPB are holding organised guided walks around the site so people can see the birds.

"They fly very low over the reed beds so you do get really cracking close-up views of them.

"If you are a small rabbit it would be a bit frightening having one of them fly over the top of you," added Mr Copleston.

If you want to be part of one of these tours contact the site office on 01636 893611. Booking is essential as the wardens can only take a few people out at one time.


Watch Nottinghamshire's pair of breeding marsh harriers in flight

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22 Jul 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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