Posted 26th Jun 2018 by Peter Byrne
Rare wading birds are hatching at Amwell Nature Reserve in Ware for the first time in five years
Three little ringed plover chicks hatched at Amwell Nature Reserve in Ware with the help of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
Pairs of little ringed plovers have been present at Amwell Nature Reserve over the years, but it is only in the last five years that the eggs have been targeted by larger birds.
Little ringed plovers are a Schedule 1 protected bird - this year, the Trust obtained a licence from Natural England to let the team install a protective cage around the nest.
Using a discarded metal supermarket shopping basket that was found on a reserve litter pick, four holes were made to allow the adult plover to get in and out while keeping the larger predators at bay.
Jenny Sherwen, the Senior Nature Reserves Officer, said: "Amwell has been managed specially to provide bare ground for the plovers- the chosen habitat for nesting. We were delighted to attract birds to nest as a result and doubly pleased to be able to protect the eggs until they hatched."
"This is the first time we have trialled using a protective cage over a plovers nest in Hertfordshire; we’re thrilled it worked and that we now have three more little ringed plovers in the county!"
"To our knowledge there are only four breeding pairs of little ringed plovers in Hertfordshire so this really is a huge accomplishment and critical to the plovers’ success. There is another breeding pair at Panshanger Park in Hertford and we have been working with Tarmac, the site owners, to maintain their surroundings in the hope we’ll have more chicks hatching soon."
Neil Fuller, Lead Conservation Adviser at Natural England, said: "Amwell Quarry SSSI is a wonderful reserve to see wildlife within the Lee Valley Special Protection Area. This reserve continues to play a key role within the wider Lea Valley landscape for a number of nationally rare birds including overwintering Bittern and this recent project has successfully shown how Little Ringed Plover (a Schedule 1 bird) can happily nest here and fledge their chicks."
"This is an excellent example of how local action within a landscape-scale project can make a difference. My thanks to Herts Middlesex Wildlife Trust, the Lee Valley Wader Strategy Group and Natural England’s licensing team for delivering a great outcome for little ringed plovers and providing an excellent opportunity for people to see and learn more about these Hertfordshire-hatched chicks."
The Trust has been working hard to maintain the ideal habitat for breeding the little ringed plovers, with the habitat creation work at Amwell and Panshanger Park forming part of the Lea Valley Wader Strategy. This is a collaboration between Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and Tarmac, addressing the decline in breeding wading birds in the Lea catchment.
Image courtesy of Tim Hill