Published: 09:20, 16 June 2014
It’s been 30 years since the last chicks were hatched in the UK, but last week, rare birds became proud parents right here in Medway.
The black-winged stilt chicks came out of their eggs at RSPB Cliffe Pools, Hoo Peninsula on Friday (June 13).
The last successful breeding attempt by the species was in Norfolk in 1987.
The pairs were discovered on the nature reserve last month and volunteers have been keeping a close eye on them.
Warden Andy Daw said: “It is very exciting that the chicks have successfully hatched.
“We managed to protect the eggs, but there are still challenges ahead because the chicks will become more vulnerable to predators.”
The birds are usually found in the Mediterranean, but it is thought a dry spell in southern Spain has led them to move here.
Black-winged stilts are large black and white waders with long reddish pink legs. They nest in wetland and feed on insects which they pick from the surface of the water or forage for in shallow mud.
Cliffe Pools has ten percent of the UK’s saline lagoons, a very rare habitat which gives the black-winged stilts what they need to breed and raise their chicks.
It is believed that a changing climate may bring these birds more regularly in the future. Chicks were also hatched at RSPB Medmerry near Chicester.
Mr Daw added: “It’s been a fantastic breeding season on the north Kent marshes, and we have recorded record numbers of lapwing chicks.”
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