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Oystercatcher breeding hopes dashed as Mudeford nests found empty

Both of the chicks which hatched at Mudeford Spit last year were killed
Both of the chicks which hatched at Mudeford Spit last year were killed

HOPES that oystercatchers would successfully breed at Mudeford for the first time in 50 years have been dashed after it appeared two nests in the area are now empty.

There was great excitement after two pairs of the birds nested in the Stanpit marsh site of the area over the past month. Experts called the nesting “unprecedented” and said there was “huge excitement” in the bird watching world.

BCP Council rushed to protect the birds by putting up warning signs and fences. But although three eggs were laid in each nest, no chicks have been seen and they are now both empty.

Reporting the news on Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group’s Facebook page, one member said: “Unfortunately, both nests have failed. It’s not known what happened on the south marsh site, but the eggs disappeared, and the birds have now left the area.

“The east marsh site was flooded by the weekend spring tide and it seems likely those birds have given up as well.

“On the positive side, at least the habitat was considered suitable for attempted breeding.”

Experts had attributed the two nests to the lockdown which they said had meant there was virtually no watercraft in the area so the birds were left in peace.

Last year another pair of oystercatchers nested near to the beach huts on Mudeford Spit and two chicks were hatched.

But tragically one chick was carried off by a gull, while the other one survived only a few days after a dog killed it.

Oystercatchers are black-and-white wading birds with a bright orange beak and reddish pink legs. They have a loud peeping call. There are around 110,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

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