Godwit birds released after WWT spring flood rescue

  • Published
Released godwitsImage source, WWT
Image caption,
The birds are expected to migrate to southern Europe and Africa for the winter

Conservationists have released 21 rare black-tailed godwits, some of which were hatched from eggs rescued from mud during early spring floods.

The birds, which are endangered and feature on the RSPB's UK "red list", were released at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Norfolk.

There are fewer than 50 breeding pairs of godwits in the UK.

It is the second time they have released the birds as part of a five-year partnership with the RSPB.

Project Godwit uses a technique known as "head-starting", in which eggs are collected in the wild and the chicks raised to fledging in captivity to boost their survival chances.

Earlier this year conservationists teamed up with farmers to rescue 32 eggs after the godwits were forced by flooding away from the safety of the Nene Washes in The Fens in Cambridgeshire.

Fifteen of those eggs hatched and the hand-reared birds are part of the latest release.

Image source, WWT
Image caption,
The "precious rare eggs" were in a "dire state" when they were found earlier this year, the RSPB said
Image source, WWT
Image caption,
Farmers helped conservationists rescue 32 eggs, 15 of which hatched

The young birds are expected to spend time on the Fens and join up with wild birds before migrating to southern Europe and Africa for the winter.

Eight black-tailed godwits from last year's release returned to the Fens this summer after travelling south.

Image source, WWT
Image caption,
The young birds were kept in captivity to protect them from predators and flooding

"Over the next few weeks we'll check on [the newly-released birds] daily to make sure they're OK," Nicola Hiscock, from WWT said.

"But then, they'll be off on migration and we probably won't see them again until they return in the next year or two."

Project Godwit is now in its second year, and a total of 49 birds - which were once extinct in the UK - have been reintroduced to the Fens.

Image source, WWT
Image caption,
The Ouse Washes were created in the 17th Century to be a flood water storage area and to protect farmland and houses
Image source, Nigel Snell
Image caption,
Godwits became extinct in the UK in the 19th Century, but they returned to England in the 1930s

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