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Project to protect black-tailed godwits from global extinction

Black Tailed Godwit Credit: WWT

Twenty-six rare wading bird chicks have been hatched by conservationists in the Fens as part of a project to protect declining species.

The black-tailed godwits which are at risk of global extinction, will be hand-reared by staff at the Welney Wetland Centre.

They're working with the RSPB in a five year project to increase numbers.

With most of the UK’s black-tailed godwits making a home in the Fens, this region is vital to the quest to maintain and increase their numbers.

The future of the species in the UK, and globally, is currently very uncertain and they are ‘red-listed’ on the UK Birds of Conservation Concern. Godwits nest on the ground so they’re susceptible to flooding in spring-time and vulnerable to predators.

– Hannah Ward, RSPB
This summer is the first of five breeding seasons for the godwits Credit: WWT

This summer is the first of five breeding seasons during which black-tailed godwits will be given a helping hand.

Now the chicks have hatched they will be reared, before they are released into the wild once they are close to fledging.

We’re really excited to get underway with Project Godwit. Now the eggs have hatched, the staff at WWT Welney will have their hands full for the next few weeks as they care for the chicks.

Headstarting young birds is a big intervention and it has already proved to be a huge help in the bid to save another species – the spoon-billed sandpiper – from extinction.

It increases the number of young birds fledging from the breeding grounds, and it also gives us the opportunity to mark the chicks so we can follow them throughout their lives, giving us a crucial insight into their behaviour.

– Rebecca Lee, WWT Principal Conservation Breeding Officer