Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Day 38 - What happens when we rally for nature

Hi all,

As it is a special day with the 'Rally for Nature' going on I thought it would be good to do a post that shows what can happen when we do give nature a chance. I think it's important we do all we can to help nature and as I couldn't be at the rally I wanted to do something to show why its important.  So I thought I'd cover a bird that has had a tough time in the past but is now happily a big success story and is an emblem of nature conservation.

If you haven't guessed already I'm taking about the Avocet. I heard about the Avocet story when I was at RSPB Titchwell where the one in the photo is from. So first the story:
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
  • Up until 1842 Avocets used to breed in the UK apparently all along the coast from Sussex to Yorkshire (I've never seen one in Yorkshire!)
  • Activities such as egg collecting (for food and egg collections), hunting them for food and for taxidermy led to them disappearing.
  • It took nearly 100 years for them to return to the UK.
  • The habit they enjoy is quite rare in the UK, shallow pools near the sea.
  • Ironically a war led to their return! A bomb blew a hole in a seawall around an island at Havergate which let in the water and created the ideal conditions for Avocets which bred there again in 1947
  • At Minsmere marshes were flooded to stop enemy troops landing and when they were drained pools were created making ideal nesting conditions. Avocets bred there in 1948 but reeds grew after that and made it unsuitable again.
  • So man stepped in and started to make things better by controlling plants, making lagoons and islands in places like Minsmere.
  • Now 100 pairs breed in Minsmere and Havergate. Other breeding sites have been created too and now 400 pairs breed in the UK, but sites do need to us humans to help keep them in the right conditions to make sure they continue to do well.

I think that's a brilliant story of how we can help nature and so did the RSPB who use the Avocet as their symbol. It shows what we can do to help nature. So a bit more about these wonderful creatures:
  • They are around 44cm long with a 78cm wingspan
  • They are specialist wading birds using their curved beak to sweep through shallow water and mud to find food
  • Mainly they eat shrimps, insect larvae and worms.
  • Sometimes in deeper water they will feed like ducks tipping upside down to reach food in the water.
  • Baby Avocets have a straight beak at first and peck insects of the mud. Their curve comes a little later at around 10 days.
  • Baby Avocets are up and out the nest in a few hours after hatching 
  • Being big and bright Avocets attack potential predators rather than try to hide. Even baby avocets chase of birds like ringed plover from an early age. 
  • Adults will gang up and mob potential predators shrieking and dive bombing the threat.
  • There are four species of Avocet worlwide.

Well I hope that gave you a good summary of these fantastic birds. There is lots on the internet about them and you can find out more at these links:

Hope you enjoyed,


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