London has a treat for birdwatchers this year -- the first breeding pair of avocets in living memory.
The avocet, a long-legged wading bird, was almost wiped out in Britain. It became a symbol of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds after a breeding pair settled into a bird sanctuary in Suffolk 60 years ago, becoming the first avocets to nest in the country in 100 years.
The pair at the Wetlands Center in Barnes, a London neighborhood south of the Thames River and four miles southwest of the central city, have four rapidly growing chicks, The Independent reports.
John Arbon, the Wetland Center grounds manager, said he hopes the family will become the nucleus of a breeding colony. The four chicks are within a few weeks of being able to function on their own.
"There's no reason why it shouldn't happen, if all the chicks fledge normally, because avocets tend to nest in big colonies, and defend themselves by numbers," he said. "This could be the start of a colony here. We could easily end up with more."
Copyright 2006 by United Press International