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Black-tailed Godwit chicks mark start of world-first captive breeding project - WWT

A newly hatched Black-tailed Godwit, to be raised as part of WWT’s Godwit Futures project. Credit: Georgina Jarman/WWT
A newly hatched Black-tailed Godwit, to be raised as part of WWT’s Godwit Futures project. Credit: Georgina Jarman/WWT

The eggs will boost critically low numbers of the UK’s breeding Black-tailed Godwit.

A new generation of Black-tailed Godwits has been hatched by experts at WWT, the charity for wetlands and wildlife, as part of a plan to increase the breeding population with hand-reared birds.

As it stands there are fewer than 50 pairs of British Black-tailed Godwits left in the wild, relying on a handful of wetland sites to breed, and WWT’s conservation breeding work forms part of a larger effort to help safeguard the subspecies.

In particular, the creation of new wetlands and the restoration of degraded wetlands near the Ouse and Nene Washes is vital to help secure the long-term future of charismatic species like the Black-tailed Godwit.

Partners including Natural England, the Environment Agency, WWT and the RSPB are working together to maintain and improve existing breeding sites, increase the extent of lowland wet grassland in the Fens and further understand and act on the pressures Godwits face from predation.

Severe flooding across the Nene and Ouse Washes is also occurring more frequently. This year Black-tailed Godwits have struggled to find suitable nest sites, and without human intervention, the critically low numbers of British breeding Godwits would likely have continued to fall.

To prevent this, eggs laid by wild birds were collected from the Nene and Ouse Washes, from nearby arable fields, and from specially constructed “lifeboat” wetlands near the Ouse Washes, managed by WWT and the RSPB.

The Ouse lifeboat sites were designed to be healthy wetland habitats, accessible even when the surrounding area is flooded, giving birds somewhere suitable to nest, and are an example of how wetland restoration can benefit threatened wetland species.


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Posted On: 15/05/2024

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