Fluffy Doncaster comeback for birds once driven out

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A rare and once threatened bird species is making a comeback at one of Doncaster’s most popular beauty spots this summer.

Concerted efforts to nurture habitats have paid off for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust volunteers who have seen three healthy marsh harrier chicks hatch at its Potteric Carr nature reserve. The wetlands here provide ideal conditions for the birds.

Raising young marsh harrier chicks is no mean feat, as the female has to sit on the eggs for more than a month, only leaving the nest briefly to catch food dropped mid-flight by the male. Once the young fledge they sit on visible perches waiting to be fed - a sight the Trust expects to be common on the reserve in the next couple of weeks.

The breeding of marsh harriers at Potteric Carr is exciting for twitchers as the bird was extinct in England by the end of the 19th century as a result of habitat loss and persecution. Although numbers are still very low, the species has returned to breed in eastern England in recent years.

Jim Horsfall, reserves officer for the Trust believes the breeding success at the nature reserve is down to its expansion over the last decade.

He said: “The breeding success of rare and threatened marsh harriers on site for the first time demonstrates how making bigger and better places for wildlife really can make a huge difference to individual species, and how depressing declines in wildlife populations can be reversed - we can make a difference.”