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Avocet

Recurvirostra avosetta

A wading bird which can be found throughout the year in coastal lagoons and estuaries. They breed on the east coast and spend the winters on the south and west coasts. You can also find breeding pairs in the New Forest at sites such as Lymington and Keyhaven Marshes, and North Solent NNR.

All about the avocet

The return of the avocet to the UK is a great conservation success story and the species is familiar to us as the emblem of the RSPB.

Avocets were extinct in this country as a breeding bird from the 19th century but began nesting again in Suffolk on beaches that had been flooded and closed during the Second World War. The avocets’ presence was initially surrounded in secrecy. A dedicated team kept up a protective watch over them with the RSPB taking responsibility for this first flourishing colony.

Avocets have elegant bluish-grey legs and distinctive pied (black and white) plumage but are most easily recognisable by their upturned bills which they use to feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, and worms by sweeping side-to-side through the water.

Conservation status

They are amber listed in the UK.

Did you know?

Once extinct in the UK, they were able to recolonise during the Second World War when beaches in East Anglia were flooded to protect the country from invasion.

Learn about the Solent’s other wading birds.