As part of the ongoing EU Life + website the staff on
Havergate are re –designing the saline lagoons. Anyone who has visited
Havergate will know that the islands suffer from significant cliffing in places
and that part of the island is virtually impossible to see into from the hides.
There are also significant ecological reasons why it is important to freshen up
the look of the reserve.
There are a good number of factors to consider when
redesigning the islets. Not least water erosion, water flow, the demands of the
existing wildlife, the view for visitors and the height of the islands. Natural
England are also keen for us to maintain the current balance of open water and
land that are already present on Havergate
Factor in all the above and it becomes clear that it is no
easy task to design the new saline lagoons.
Before the capital works begin it is important to have a
plan and a design in place, to do this involves mapping all the existing
islands onto the computer, this gives us an existing area of island and volume
of spoil to be moved. We can then trial out new designs which allow for the
most elegant solution to all the factors that need to be considered.
This is an important moment in Havergate’s life story, the
re –design is likely to be with the island for many years to come and needs to
fit the criteria and the bill precisely and look good on the eye.
Next winter will see the building work start with plant
arriving on the island. The initial tasks include replacing the sluices and
constructing the Tern islands on Cottage Flood and Belpers.
The Tern islands will be islets within the saline lagoon
topped in shingle. At other sites terns have shown a preference to use this
type of islands, as it aids camouflage of both the egg and chick. It also makes
the job of the scraping Tern much easy. This should be a relatively easy task
as shingle is already present on the island.
The sluice design is yet to be finalised but they will be
designed to reduce the occurrence of hyper salinity and to offer us a finer
control and precision over the water levels. The existing sluice network as seen little
change over the past 20 years and immersion within a saline environment with
wave action will naturally take its toll.
For more details on the EU Life + project, check out the
project website. See how the work on Havergate fits in with the work on Orfordness
and how the RSPB and The National Trust are working together to secure the
future of the sites and improve the area for wildlife.
Bird wise it’s quieted down of late on the island, though a
few days ago there were two short eared owls and two barn owls hunting the
seawalls in close proximity, both species offering superb views. At least one
Spotted Redshank is still present and 18 Brent geese have been on the island
top at various times over the last week.