avocets

oil on canvas board 25cm x 25cm

If only the amasser of British killed specimens could be exterminated and the protection laws of this country be more rigidly enforced, the avocet might once more become a local breeding species in some of our counties. At present, however, a few birds arrive in our southern and eastern counties yearly, an it is to be feared that but few live to cross over to their breeding grounds in Holland. It used to formerly breed in considerable numbers…along our flat eastern shores. The nest is placed on the mud or sand in an estuary, and at no great distance from the water, and consists merely of a very small collection of dry bents and grass. The eggs are three to four in number and pale clay in colour, speckled with black. The note is a clear “kluit”, generally uttered on the wing, and when disturbed these birds are very noisy. Their food consists of small insects and crustacea, which are captured by a sideways motion of its curiously shaped bill. It almost always feeds in shallow water, and when feeding walks along, slowly moving the bill from side to side on the surface of the mud.

(from J. Lewis Bonhote, Birds of Britain, published 1907)

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