Redshank chicks observed at Colyford Common

PUBLISHED: 13:26 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:02 15 June 2010

RANGERS working on East Devon District Council's nature reserves on the Axe Estuary have been delighted to hear the patter of tiny feet.

RANGERS working on East Devon District Council's nature reserves on the Axe Estuary have been delighted this spring to welcome the patter of tiny feet.Redshank chicks were seen feeding around a newly constructed lagoon, directly opposite the bird hide at Colyford Common, and were photographed by local birding enthusiasts.Redshank are one of a very few waders to breed in the county, and the three pairs at Colyford Common represent half of the entire breeding population in Devon."Redshank only breed on two estuaries in Devon," explained Nature Reserve Officer Fraser Rush. "Although we knew of two possible breeding pairs last year, they were in a part of the estuary which is very difficult to access, so we only had behavioural clues to judge their breeding success.""This year we have seen the adults displaying once again" said Fraser "but thanks to improvements to the wetlands we were able to see and photograph the youngsters right outside the bird hide, without disturbing the birds at all - perfect!"With only eight sites in the South West where redshank still breed, this once common breeding bird has suffered dramatic decline in recent years. "Four newly emerged chicks were seen," said the Council's Education Ranger, James Chubb, "which is typical for redshank nests as their eggs fit neatly in fours. These were very young birds, and there is normally a high mortality rate as they are vulnerable to predators while young and flightless. We will have to hope that as many of these chicks as possible survive in the marshes.""To be able to see the chicks from the bird hide, without venturing out onto the marsh and adding to the birds' early stresses is a real benefit, as people can get the chance of great views from the Local Nature Reserve," said James. "With the development of digital photography some of the birdwatchers were even able to get video footage of these little cuties, which can be watched on You Tube at local birdwatcher, Steve Waite's site -""This breeding success illustrates the benefits already being realised by the District Council's ambitious Axe Wetland Project" explained Fraser. "Before now redshank would not have bred in this particular area as it was less than ideal. However, with a little habitat improvement and added facilities for public viewing, the wildlife has benefited as well as the visitors."East Devon District Council has big plans for the west side of the Axe Estuary; to improve wetland habitats and increase access provision through five kilometres of paths and boardwalks.

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