Rare avocet chicks hatch in Devon for the first time ever

A major success is being celebrated in Devon after avocet chicks have been born in the county for the first time ever.

East Devon's Seaton Wetlands breeding programme effort was awarded with the birth of the two chicks.

A pair of avocets were seen foraging in the brackish lagoon of Black Hole Marsh on the Axe Estuary in spring, before two were seen mating on the lagoon in late May, settling down to brood eggs on an island by the beginning of June. 

East Devon District Council have been closely watching the eggs as they were being incubated, the whole team were even sworn to secrecy over the chicks until they hatched on Monday 26 June.

Countryside Manager at East Devon District Council, James Chubb told ITV News West Country it's the culmination of years of planning.

"Black Hole Marsh, the saline lagoon was designed back in 2008 and created with a grant from the Environment Agency and avocets were always the one species we wanted to get here breeding. At that time they weren't anywhere nearby, so it was a real pipe dream."

The species were hunted to extinction in England in 1847.

The species were hunted to extinction in England in 1847: "There was a very small population around the East of the country and they were very highly sought after for decorating hats of all things."

James spoke of his elation after the avocets chose to breed in Devon for the first time.

"It was 100 years later before they returned to the country to breed and over those proceeding years they've been gradually moving Westward and Northward but this is the first time they've ever bred in Devon.

It was a difficult secret for the team at East Devon District Council to keep: "They started to incubate the eggs back in June and we were sworn to secrecy.

"It was so difficult not to say anything because I wanted to go skipping along telling everyone I saw and finally they hatched on Monday and we were able to start sharing our excitement."