In the last few weeks some familiar friends have returned to Rye Harbour in good numbers for the nesting season. The loud call of ‘klute-klute-klute’ gives the Avocet its Dutch name – Kluut
Avocets were extinct as a breeding bird in the UK from 1893 to 1941. The first pairs returned to Suffolk, then spread around the country through a network of coastal nature reserves, first nesting at Rye Harbour in 2002. They became firmly established here in 2006 after new sea defence work created saline lagoons with islands suitable for nesting. There have been as many as 68 breeding pairs at Rye Harbour in recent years.
A few adult Avocets have colour rings (put on when still chicks) which shows where they came from and where they winter. The one shown below - FJ75132 - was ringed in June 2007 at La Saline Neuve a coastal site in western France 440 km away, and it winters near there every year. But from March to August it is usually present in Rye Bay where it nests. It was first sighted at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve in June 2010 and has then been seen locally every year. This year it was seen on 16 March by Phil Jones at Pett Level.
Avocets are now so common and obvious here that they will feature as the Saltmarsh Star in a new interpretation panel that will eventually appear in the Gooders Hide, which is the best place to watch this elegant bird and hopefully some of their cute chicks...