Suc­cess story of the av­o­cet

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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. lanc­

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.lanc­ or call 01772 324129.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshire

Amy Lewis

●● There have now been sight­ings of the grace­ful av­o­cet in the north west

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