After 5 months, the earthwork and engineering work on Havergate is complete. Now after the changes, comes the hard part, namely using the new sluices and island layout to increase the ecological effectiveness of the reserve.
It will be worth keeping an eye on both the RSPB website and the Alde – Ore future for wildlife in the near future as I will be posting some before and after shoots which highlight the amount of work that has been done.
We are all very proud of all the work and effort that is gone in and look forward to increased numbers of birds on the island and a better visitor spectacle which we will be able to share with both visitors and volunteers alike over the next few years.
If you where to visit the island tomorrow, the first thing you would notice is that despite it being spring the water levels in the lagoons are unusually high.
There are two main reasons for this, its important that we are able to replenish the invertebrate stock after running the water levels low throughout winter. In a normal winter, this is the time we would normally run the water levels higher and rehydrate the mud. We are also trying to manage the vegetation on the islands to benefit the breeding birds, as both terns and avocets prefer sparser vegetated island. The higher water levels also fall into the category of managing the island for breeding spoonbills as current thinking suggests that by opening sluices we are able to bring there favoured food into the lagoons, however, there is large degree of unknown in this.
We can take some comfort in that despite the hosepipe ban effecting the region because our water comes from a saline tidal source we will be relatively unaffected, meaning we should be able to provide good feeding and breeding conditions for our birds all year around.
Despite this, it is quiet for bird life on the island, there is still a couple of short eared owls around, the 3 spoonbills are often on Havergate, there was a spotted redshank last weekend and as normal we are getting a trickle of passerine migrants including chiffchaffs, wheatears and goldcrests.
The Hare event was a great success the previous weekend, with all 12 boats fully booked, and the Hares showed extremely well, with some allowing approaches up to five feet.
It is worth pointing out that the Hares can be seen all year around. Though it is more tricky to see them throughout May, June and July as we rope the favoured gorse area off for the benefit of the breeding common gulls. Its heartening to see that the Hares are still popular and subtly this event and time of the year is becoming one of our busiest times of the year. If you wish to be part of this event next year, then I recommend booking early to avoid disappointment or enquire to become a volunteer on the island!