Reserve proves perfect retreat

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Ten years since the RSPB first welcomed wintering marsh harriers to its Blacktoft Sands reserve, numbers have soared to a record high.

The birds of prey used to migrate south to spend the winter in southern Europe or North Africa but during recent winters increasing numbers have decided to stay and brave the British climate.

Last year, 13 pairs successfully nested in the reed beds at the reserve and 38 have stayed on throughout the winter.

The RSPB is running guided walks throughout February to give people the chance to see the birds.

Mike Andrews, visitor officer at RSPB Blacktoft Sands said: “Not only is this a special anniversary for Blacktoft Sands but with up to 38 marsh harriers using the reed bed to roost in at night, it makes this year extra special. With such a large number of marsh harriers and a good chance of seeing the elusive hen harrier, these guided walks offer everyone a chance to experience a fantastic natural event.”

Tickets for special bird of prey events next month cost £4.

They can be pre-booked by calling Blacktoft Sands on 01405 704665.