Humber Avocet colony expands

A failing breeding avocet colony on the Humber has enjoyed a dramatic reversal in fortunes with its most successful season ever, thanks to a major restoration project.

The RSPB estimates that at least 200 avocet chicks have fledged this year on its reserve Read’s Island. Not only is this around 25% higher than its previous best season, it is the first time any young have fledged on the site for three years.

Avocet - Pic RSPB

Avocet - Pic RSPB

Situated near the south bank of the Humber, Read’s Island used to be one of the UK’s most important breeding sites for the RSPB’s emblematic species. However, in 2007, the river’s strong tide eroded the pools where the birds breed, causing the colony’s productivity to collapse.

The avocet is the symbol of the RSPB and can be seen in its official logo.

A grant of almost £50,000 from SITA Trust enabled the RSPB to rebuild and protect 10 hectares of Read’s Island in the hope of securing a future for the avocet colony.

Deep feeding pools were created, capable of holding water during the breeding season and islands were built for the birds to nest on. In addition, existing banks were repaired to help protect the avocet nests from high spring tides.

Prior to the restoration project, the number of breeding avocet pairs on Read’s Island had shrunk to a mere 50. This season there are in excess of 200.

Pete Short, the RSPB’s Humber Site Manager said: “The project has been a huge success and we are delighted that the island has regained its former glory as one of our most important avocet breeding colonies.

The island is perfect for the iconic black and white wading birds: they love the salty pools for breeding, while the mudflats of the wider Humber Estuary offer them a rich source of food once the young birds have fledged.”

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