Damian Waters (drumimages.co.uk)
A scarce wader, the avocet is about the same size as an oystercatcher but much more slender. It feeds on aquatic insects, worms and crustaceans which it finds by sweeping its bill from side-to-side in shallow water; it is often seen in estuaries and mudflats at the coast where it breeds on exposed mud in a dug-out scrape.
How to identify
Unmistakeable: mainly white with black patches on the back and wings and a black cap stretching down the back of the neck. Long, blue legs but most easily recognised by the long, black, upturned bill.
Where to find it
Breeds in shallow coastal lagoons around the east coast of England and winters on sheltered estuaries on the south coast. Small numbers are now beginning to breed at inland saline lagoons, including in Worcestershire.
When to find it
How can people help
A key species in the story of conservation, the avocet represents an amazing recovery of a bird once extinct in the UK. Thankfully still on the increase, the avocet is benefiting from work by The Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations to protect the coastal habitats it relies on. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives from coast to deep sea. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.