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New island at Titchwell RSPB reserve is going down a tweet with the birds

PUBLISHED: 18:38 31 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:21 31 May 2011

An avocet with her young at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: RSPB.

An avocet with her young at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: RSPB.

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A brand new island created last year at the RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh reserve has already become home to 80 pairs of nesting avocets and their chicks.

Wardens are celebrating their most successful-ever breeding season for the species.

he new island was created last August with the hope of encouraging avocets away from their previous nesting site on the reserve’s brackish marsh.

The brackish marsh is soon to become a new tidal salt marsh – a natural sea defence - as part of the reserve’s ongoing Coastal Change Project.

The project aims to protect the reserve’s freshwater habitats from rising sea levels.

Outlying areas are being surrenderd to the tides, to allow salt marsh to build up and a form a natural barrier, to protect reedbeds used by rare birds like the bittern.

Robert Coleman, site manager at Titchwell, said: “As with all RSPB work, the interests of wildlife are always priority, so the project had to ensure that any changes made to the reserve would not have a negative impact on the reserve’s wildlife.

“With the forthcoming transformation of the brackish marsh, it was clear that a new nesting place for the avocets would need to be created, we are very pleased that so many birds have nested on their new island in it’s very first spring.”

The first avocet chicks began to hatch two weeks ago and at the last count there were an estimated 27 young birds exploring the area.

However, the inquisitive nature of the chicks makes it a constant challenge for the parent avocets to protect them from predation, with resident birds such as seagulls, herons and crows all taking their toll on the young chicks.

Rowena Flavelle, reserve assistant at Titchwell, has been monitoring the avocets’ breeding success for the past three months.

She said: “The original aim was to have at least 10 nesting pairs of avocets this year, so the 80 pairs we had on the new island goes above and beyond the reserve’s expectations.

“It’s been the reserve’s best year ever for avocets, so we’re really pleased - especially as avocets are the RSPB’s emblem.”

The newly improved freshwater marsh habitat is also home to other species of wader.

They include little ringed plovers, oystercatchers and redshank.

More than 20 different species of wader can be seen at any one time during the Spring and Autumn migration, making the site extremely popular with birdwatchers.

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