Will Sizewell C see off the avocet? There are many reasons why birds disappear — and why they return. The avocet, however, is probably the only one that owes its resurgence to the Nazis. After a 100-year hiatus in Britain, this elegant black and white wader reappeared after the second world war. Four pairs were found in Minsmere nature reserve and another four in Havergate Island, both along the Suffolk coast. These areas had been flooded to prevent a German invasion, making them ideal nesting grounds. The avocet had taken flight from parts of Holland damaged by the Nazis, travelling 100 miles or so here across the North Sea. Today, visitors to Minsmere would be hard pressed not to see an avocet during the summer, and nationally they are no longer listed as endangered. But there are fears of a new danger to their continued success — the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station. The ten-year construction of the plant will involve major disruption to water levels in the area, threatening a huge range of wildlife. So, despite avocets’ recent triumphs, the future may not be so black and white for these beautiful monochrome birds.
Spectator 14th Aug 2021 read more »