Marsh harrier chicks bred at Mersey estuary in Cheshire

One of the UK's rarest birds of prey have bred for a second year in Cheshire.

Two marsh harrier chicks have been seen flying beyond their nesting area near the Mersey estuary.

The exact location is being kept secret to avoid disruption from bird watchers and egg collectors.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is monitoring the health of the chicks, who are expected to stay in Cheshire for a few weeks before heading to Europe.

Prof David Norman, chairman of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: "It's extremely heartening to see the return of these magnificent birds of prey to the Mersey basin.

"After many weeks and months of patient watching and waiting, to finally see two more young harriers in the air is spectacular news and a great relief to those who have been keeping a close eye on them."

Wetland habitats

The conservation charity hopes that a current planting project will help to create suitable habitats for the harriers and encourage them to return.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust Living Landscape manager Richard Gardner said: "What we're looking to achieve is a mosaic of wetland habitats that includes floodplain meadows, ditches and of course healthy rivers.

"This variety is key for species like the marsh harrier that can be flexible in where it nests, but ultimately still needs the right places to find food.

"Our goal is to work with landowners to strike that balance between sustainable land management for individuals, communities and wildlife - and perhaps a place where the marsh harrier can be the centrepiece."

The trust is hopeful that the adult marsh harriers will return to breed in Cheshire again next spring.

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