Snipe breed again on Whixall Moss in Shropshire

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Image caption,
Dog walkers were the first to report the return of snipes to Whixall Moss

A rare species of bird has returned to a nature reserve in Shropshire for the first time in 25 years.

Snipes are breeding again on Whixall Moss, near Whitchurch, after a steep decline in their numbers led the RSPB to add them to its endangered list.

A loss of low, wet grassland had led to their scarcity, but restoration work on the nature reserve had seen them reappear, manager Steve Dobbin said.

Dog walkers were the first to report the return of the birds, he added.

'Very welcome'

The birds nest on the ground and Mr Dobbin said although it was "heartening" dog walkers had reported sightings, he urged people to keep their pets on a lead in the areas where birds were nesting.

Volunteers who patrol the area had confirmation of at least one breeding pair, the reserve said.

Across the UK, there are thought to be up to 80,000 breeding pairs, according to the RSPB.

Leo Smith, editor of Birds of Shropshire and organiser of the county-wide Breeding Snipe survey, said: "These 2017-19 records are the first with evidence of breeding snipe from Whixall Moss since 1995.

"We only found evidence of 10 breeding pairs in the whole of Shropshire in 2019, so finding them again at Whixall is very welcome."

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