Conservationists are celebrating after an iconic bird has bred in Gloucestershire for the first time.
A pair of avocets has bred at WWT Slimbridge and two of their young have just hatched, with a further egg potentially hatching.
The wading bird was extinct in Britain for a long time because of habitat destruction and persecution by skin and egg collectors.
However, soon after World War II they started breeding on reclaimed land near the Wash, which was returned to marshland to create difficulties for German invaders.
Since that point numbers have slowly recovered in the UK but this is the first time they have bred in Gloucestershire.
The avocet is popular with birdwatchers as it has attractive black and white plumage and a distinctive upturned beak which allows it to feed well in saltwater by sweeping its head from side to side. This couple has started their young family in view of the Holden Tower, a three storey bird hide overlooking the Severn Estuary at Slimbridge.
Dave Paynter, head of reserve at Slimbridge, said: “This is extremely exciting for Gloucestershire and great for Slimbridge that they have chosen here as a suitable habitat.
“We have been keeping an eye on the nest to ensure there is no disturbance for a long time and took the decision to build a small electrified fence around it recently to try and give them further protection from any predators.
“The next few days and weeks will be critical as they are very vulnerable before they grow a bit bigger.
“We will be keeping our fingers crossed for them and following their progress.”
To find out how they are getting on visit our wildlife sightings page at: www.wwt.org.uk/slimbridge-sightings or come to Slimbridge to see the young family in person.