Success story of the avocet
CONSERVATION work is a means to an end.
The hard work we do on habitat improvements, like removing scrub and coppicing trees, makes nice little clearings. On rainy winter days all you seem to be preserving is the mud.
It is only when spring comes around and plants cover these muddy areas that the real results begin to appear.
And those plants bring in insects – then birds, bees and butterflies. It makes all that hard work in autumn and winter worthwhile.
On a grander scale we also work hard to re-introduce species that have vanished from some areas. A couple of years ago the bog brush cricket was found on Cadishead Moss, 30 years after it was last seen.
In north Lancashire the Wildlife Trust has reintroduced large heath butterflies on a moss.
We will study how the butterfly copes over the coming years before bringing it back home to the Salford mosslands where it is better known as the Manchester Argus.
It has been extinct in Manchester for more than half a century.
One of the great national success stories in conservation has been the avocet. The avocet is a wader, about the same size as an oystercatcher, but much more slender and white – and without the red bill.
It went missing from the whole of the UK in 1840 but started to make a comeback in the 1940s.
We now have sightings of this beautiful bird in the north west. Avocets bred at Brockholes in Preston last year and have bred in Wigan.
The bird mainly breeds in shallow coastal lagoons around the east coast of England and winters on sheltered estuaries on the south coast.
It feeds on aquatic insects, worms and crustaceans which it finds by sweeping its bill from side-to-side in shallow water.
It is often seen in estuaries and mudflats at the coast where it thrives on exposed mud and will nest in a dug-out scrape.
It has been spotted around the Ribble Estuary and around the Fylde.
You can easily spot an avocet as it is mainly white with black patches on the back and wings and a black cap stretching down the back of the neck.
It has long, blue legs but it is most easily recognised by the long, black, upturned bill.
It can also be heard from a distance with its ‘clwuit, clwuit’ call.
The return of this graceful bird is proof that conservation does work and makes me feel quite warm inside working for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. If you want to share that warm feeling you can join the Wildlife Trust or volunteer to help with our work on our website www. lancswt.org.uk.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070. The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 26,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers. To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.
For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshire wildlifetrust.org.uk.
●● There have now been sightings of the graceful avocet in the north west