Avocets are very special birds for those of us who care about wildlife here in the UK. They are the official symbol of the RSPB for starters. They went extinct as a breeding bird in the UK in around 1842 as a result of pressure for egg-collection, food and plumes. Then a hundred years later as part of Britain's defence against potential invasion in the second world war large lagoons on the east coast that were previously drained were reflooded to slow the progress of any invasive force. In 1947 avocets were found breeding again at two of these sites. This led directly to the creation of the fabulous minsmere reserve.
With their place as a symbol of renewal, hope and conservation established the avocets have set about consolidating. 59 years later they still breed at minsmere and now many other lagoon reserves. Last year a pair nested at the RSPB's new reserve, Rainham Marshes in East London. This year at London Wetland Centre a pair seem to have stayed on (they often pass through) and has apparently been seen mating.
I took these pictures at a huge distance through my 8X monocular (I'm working on a way to take pictures through my new 25X spotting scope (thank you ebay!)) so they are not the best but it was a pleasure to see these beautiful birds working the water with their strange upcurved bills.
I'll be going back in a couple of weeks so I'm keeping my fingers crossed they'll still be there when I go back. On a related note Pam tagged me with John at DC Birding Blog's most beautiful birds meme. The American avocet has already been featuring heavily and I'm sure our version will feature in my 10....now to narrow down the other 9.