Seaton Wetlands have welcomed new arrivals and they are certainly an exciting milestone! On Monday 26th June, Avocet chicks hatched, marking the first appearance of a family unit in Devon for 176 years. 

The proud parents arrived in Spring, foraging, mating and then settling down and nesting by early June. Settling down on an island, the birds were closely monitored by the Wetlands team to ensure success. With so many adverse factors that could affect the incubation period, it has been a close-kept secret until the hatching! 

“With the female sitting tight on the eggs, the male would stand like a sentry on the northern tip of the island,” explained East Devon District Council’s Countryside Manager, James Chubb. “Anything smaller than a Canada goose was seen off. We have a lot of crows here too and they weren’t even tolerated in the air above the nest.”

“Whilst the Countryside Team could keep alert for intentional or reckless human disturbance, it was all down to the birds to protect themselves from natural predators. We kept the water levels on the lagoon as high as possible during incubation to provide protection from animals such as foxes or stoats.”

Cllr Paul Arnott, East Devon District Council’s Leader, said:

“This administration has been steadfast in its support for nature and its protection. We understand the importance of caring for wildlife and their natural homes, so we continue to invest in our treasured nature reserves around East Devon.

“We are absolutely delighted to see our efforts are paying off with the breeding of this iconic wetlands species, and would like to thank all the staff and volunteers across East Devon who have made this possible.”

Black Hole Marsh was created in 2008 with support from the Environment Agency as part of East Devon District Council’s ambitious Seaton Wetlands complex of nature reserves and setting out the District Council’s commitment to nature recovery at a very early stage.

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said:

“Strategic plans to attract avocets have long been in place. During that time, winter records of these birds have been regular in most years. Fifteen years on, it is now a magical sight to witness them breeding.

“Because the lagoon was entirely man-made, it was designed to provide excellent bird feeding opportunities whilst giving good views from the hides and vantage points, too. The assortment of islands with differing vegetation all point towards the central island hide accessed via a wooden causeway, surrounding you with birds when you are in this hide.”

Visitors are welcome to visit Seaton Wetlands to see for themselves the avocets’ progress.

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