Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Daddy Long-legs

A quick post to wrap up the Wales trip. On the way across we bisected Cheshire, very close to a nature reserve were Black-winged Stilts were still nesting. Didn't expect us to pass that by without taking a look, did you?
This was only the 7th known occurrence of nesting in Britain for this species (found more usually around the Mediterranean coasts), unusually two or possibly three pairs breed in Nottinghamshire in 1945, with a handful of other records since then. Cue the RSPB and their Aren't Birds Brilliant team to watch over the birds and show them to the public. You couldn't miss them...

Ridiculous and beautiful looking birds really, my girlfriend labelled the male bird 'daddy long-legs' and you can easily see why - indeed proportional to body size they have the longest legs of any bird in the world. Not only strange by appearance, the parent bird had the habit of carrying the chick around under its wing, so you'd see the adult stood with two legs poking from its armpit and know where the chick was.
Sadly it was only one chick. The clutch hatched during a stormy night which the rest of the brood failed to survive, and now regrettably I have read that the one chick has been taken by a predator since our visit to the site. Just 1 week away from fully fledgling too.

So for this year, that particular spectacle is over. Let's see if the Stilts pop up anywhere next Spring. Keep an eye out for ridiculous birds, all right?

Maybe you'll find a long-stayer worthy of naming, like Sammy, a remarkable bird that took residence at the RSPB's Titchwell Reserve for 12 years from the mid-90's. Thought at the time to be the most photographed bird in the UK, beat that Kate Moss!

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