Up to four Black-tailed godwit chicks are hatching on the reserve at WWT Welney in Norfolk, an amazing success story after last year’s floods that washed away all the nests.
Back in the 1970s, some 65 pairs of Black-tailed godwits bred on the Ouse Washes alone, but frequent flooding has forced a decline to just 50 pairs across the whole of the UK. WWT Welney is the second best place in the UK for breeding Black-tailed godwits. Three pairs regularly return from their African wintering grounds to breed on the reserve here on the Ouse Washes each summer.
WWT Welney Reserve Manager, Leigh Marshall, said: “It is vital that the breeding pairs, their nests and the newly hatched chicks here remain undisturbed, so we will continue to observe them from a distance.
“These birds make the journey from Africa here every summer and as the numbers are so few, each successful hatch is vital for the stability of the population. After such a disastrous breeding season last summer, when all the nests were washed away in the flooding, it is amazing to see the Black-tailed godwits return to Welney, where the Washes are managed particularly for wading birds, and successfully hatch chicks this year.”
Black-tailed godwits lay up to four eggs at a time, so this nest could yield four chicks. There are two other breeding pairs on the reserve, so further eggs could be observed hatching by the staff over the next few days and weeks.
The expertly managed reserve at WWT Welney supports many nationally threatened wading birds. At the moment there are 31 breeding Avocets on the lagoon, and the reserve holds 114 pairs of breeding Snipe, 147 Lapwing pairs and 62 pairs of Yellow wagtail.