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Two avocet chicks

With young birds taking their first steps in life along the Solent coastline, it can make bird ID even trickier than usual.

Some youngsters look like they’re a completely different species compared with an adult bird, some seem like ‘mini-me’s of their parents, while others look like they’re from a different planet altogether.

Here’s our pick of some of the youngsters you’ll see along the Solent coastline:

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Juvenile herring gulls with tawny mottled plumage

What’s this gull with the tawny, mottled plumage?

Some people think they’re an entirely different species from their herring gull parents – but they’re just youngsters who are on their way to developing their mature white and grey plumage.

In their first year, as juveniles, they’re mottled brown, in their second year they have more grey on their backs, while those in their third year have more grey and more white on their heads and bellies.

It’s only in the fourth year that they only don their bright white plumage and pearly-grey backs.

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A coot chick

A face only a mother could love?

We think it looks adorable – and even at this early age, the clue is in their lobed feet.

Coots have a half-way stage to a webbed foot with lobed flaps of skin on their toes which help provide extra power when they’re swimming. And a quick clue to coot versus moorhen ID when they’re adults? CooTs have whiTe on their faces, while mooRhens have Red.

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Two avocet chicks

What’s with the upturned bills?

These fluffy chicks have a noticeable upturn to their bills – so who’s their parents?

Avocets have elegant bluish-grey legs and distinctive pied (black and white) plumage but are most easily recognisable by their upturned bills.

They use them to feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and worms by sweeping side-to-side through the water.

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two great crested grebe chicks

Who are these stripey fellows catching a lift?

Once hatched, these waterbirds often ride on their parents’ backs, keeping up a demand for small fish and other treats.

Famed for their extraordinary mating dance, pairs of great crested grebes perform a ritual which includes head waggling, preening, diving under the water and popping out again, and offering each other displays of water weed.

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What could be more cute than a bundle of fluffy ducklings?

But can you work out from their stripy markings what ducks they’ll be when they’re grown up?

These are shelducklings. Both male and female shelducks look after their young, which partly accounts for the female’s lack of camouflage. They’re also well hidden as they nest in burrows and holes, making them less vulnerable than ground-nesting birds.

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Here’s our youngsters with their parent:

A coot chick with its parent

A coot chick and parent

Avocet and 2 chicks

An avocet with chicks

Two great crested grebe chicks riding on a parent's back

A great crested grebe giving its chicks a ride

A female shelduck with a group of ducklings

A female shelduck with ducklings

Find out about the different types of eggs hatched by some of our ground nesting birds.