As people who visit the website will be aware, the island closed its doors to the general public at the beginning of October this is to enable the contractors to access the island and carry out the vital works as part of the EU life+ project. It is my pleasure and excitement to be able to announce that this work will begin on Wednesday.
For those who are not aware of what we have planned for the island. Broadly we have two aims to be able to better control the water and salinity levels on the island and improve the habitat for a broad spectrum of species.
To achieve this the first phase of the work is to redesign the islands in the northern lagoons. Currently the islands are high and cliffed with rank vegetation the dominant fauna. These cliffed and rankly vegetated islands don't provide enough suitable breeding and feeding habitat for waders. One of the key aims of successful lagoon and scrape management is to provide suitable feeding edge for waders, this will benefit avocets, dunlin and black tailed godwits amongst others.
In addition, Ducks such as wigeon and teal will happily feed on salicornia and samphire vegeatation that can be achieved by regular inundations from salt-water.
The islands have been specified to be rearranged at different heights relative to the lagoon bed. It is also the aimto try and create lots of good feeding edge near the hides to enhance peoples chances of getting some close encounters with the birds.
The second part of the work will see the existing sluices refurbished. This will enable salinity measures to be controlled (salinity is a measure of how salty the lagoons are) and the water levels to be controlled with far more precision. At a basic level two things are wrong with the current lagoons on Havergate, the water gets two salty in a dry summer which has a harmful effect on the lagoon invertebrates and there is not sufficient flow in the water to oxygenate the mud at the bottom of the lagoons. The newly refurbished lagoons which will either be lowered on in some cases raised according to a hydrology report commissioned last year should ameliorate both these problems. Providing better feeding opportunities for all the birds on Havergate, invertebrates in saline lagoons as they are in many habitats are the key.
Lancaster earthmoving have been appointed to do the work, they'll be familiar to regular visitors to RSPB reserves having recently completed work on both the managed realignment projects at RSPB Titchwell and RSPB Minsmere.
Other things happening on the island include only the 9th ever record of whooper swans. There was some great views of rough legged buzzard to be had last thursday, the second year in a row mid October has produced one of these magnificent birds. 2 lapland buntings have been lingering on Belpers lagoon, three late lingering spoonbills on main and north lagoons have provided some entertainment and both Merlins and Peregrines have been hunting on the island. The flamingo continues to show no signs of leaving. Sadly, she may well find the construction work not to his liking, what chances she'll return to Minsmere?