Rescued black-tailed Godwit generation hatches

A rescued generation of chicks has hatched as a result of efforts to safeguard the subspecies.

Severe flooding across the Nene and Ouse Washes meant Black-tailed Godwits struggled to find suitable nest sites, meaning the number of breeding Godwits would continue to fall.

To safeguard the subspecies eggs laid by wild birds were collected. A minimum of 20 will be released this year to establish the world’s first captive breeding population.

A Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) member said that without human intervention, there "would probably be no Black-tailed Godwit chicks fledging in the UK this year".

The Black-tailed Godwit chicks were hatched by the WWT to increase breeding populations with hand-reared birds.

There are fewer than 50 pairs of the birds left in the wild and efforts are being made to help safeguard the subspecies.

William Costa, project manager and lead aviculturist at WWT, said: “Without ongoing efforts to restore wetlands around the Fens there would probably be no Black-tailed Godwit chicks fledging in the UK this year.

“This rescued generation of Black-tailed Godwits will be crucial to helping the species remain as a breeding bird in the UK.

"By releasing a minimum of 20 of them this year and establishing the world’s first captive breeding population, we will be giving this subspecies the lifeline it needs to survive as our wetland restoration work ramps up around the UK.”

Partners including Natural England, the Environment Agency, WWT and the RSPB are working together to maintain and improve existing breeding sites and increase the extent of lowland wet grassland in the Fens.

To help the species, eggs laid by wild birds were collected from the Nene and Ouse Washes and from nearby arable fields.

They were also taken from lifeboat sites, designed to be healthy wetland habitats, accessible even when the surrounding areas are flooded.

The chicks can walk and feed themselves just hours after hatching.

WWT staff will care for them until they are able to fly and are more likely to survive in the wild on their own.

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