I think autumn has definitely settled in now. I was told Havergate could be a very cold and harsh place, especially in the winter and I can quite believe it! Even now in mid October a warm coat and a hat is recommended. You shouldn’t be put off by this though. Havergate is a spectacular place this time of year and autumn/ winter is the best time to see high numbers of waders and wildfowl feeding on our lagoons.
Yesterday we had our first visitor trip in collaboration with the Crown and Castle Hotel in Orford. 5 visitors staying at the hotel donned their waterproofs and braved the bad forecast to visit Havergate and despite the constant rain, we all had a fantastic day.
A good variety of birds could be seen feeding on the lagoons and to top the day of we had amazing views of a ring tailed Hen harrier and Marsh Harrier hunting over the longer vegetation along the sea walls. The weather didn’t dampen everyone’s enthusiasm as we stopped and watched a couple of hares who didn’t seem to mind the rain sheltering under the gorse bushes.
I think everyone deserved the chocolate cake and coffee that was waiting for them in the hotel when they returned and I am looking forward to our next trip next week. Please check our website events page http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/h/havergate/events.aspx. We will be updating it very soon with all the trips and events running next year.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit Havergate Island for the first time this year to help Dave and Aaron to lead walks for some of the RSPB's Sea Life Guardians.
Havergate is always a magical place, but it was even more special yesterday with warm sunshine, unbroken blue sky for most of the day and barely a breath of wind - plus of course some amazing wildlife and friendly visitors.
Any trip to Havergate starts on Orford Quay, but it doesn't often look as calm as this.
The herring gulls were waiting to greet us as we landed on the jetty.
Once on the island, I had an hour to myself before my group arrived, so headed to Belpers Hide and on to look for the hares.
The saltmarsh flowers were well past their best but a few patches of sea lavender remained in flower.
The samphire, however, had turned many of the lagoon islands a stunning red.
The hares were still quite easy to spot near the volunteer chalets, although they certainly don't allow you to get as close as they used to. During the course of the day I saw at least four different hares, which after December's devastating surge tide was great news. The volunteer staying on the island this week had been watching them drinking the morning dew from the grass (there is no fresh water on the island) then sunning themselves on the shingle.
Soon it was time for my group to arrive and we went in search of some of the island's wildlife. We weren't disappointed, as we followed a migrant meadow pipit along the path for 200 metres. From North Hide sightings including spoonbill, 25 little egrets, 600 avocets, 250 redshanks and 150 curlews on the lagoons. Back at the hares we spotted a painted lady butterfly, along with good numbers of small heath, small copper, small and green-veined white butterflies and migrant hawker dragonflies. A marsh harrier quartering the bank flushed an impressive flock of 50 linnets, while at least six kestrels were seen hunting the marshes during the day. Although few smaller birds are seen on the island I did glimpse what looked like a garden warbler (a reserve rarity) and a chiffchaff in patches of scrub.
Later, with the second group of the day we saw a pristine summer plumage grey plover as well two already in winter plumage, and a winter plumage bar-tailed godwit.
Eventually it was time to leave the island...
...but not before spotting this beauty resting on the quay. I know it's a shieldbug, but not sure of the species
I really could not have visited on a better day.
Unfortunately, the weekend saw our last event of the year on Havergate, so we are now back to just one trip on the first Saturday of each month. The next availability is on Saturday 6 December. Next year's programme isn't finalised yet, but we hope to start taking booking in early October for January onwards. Call 01728 648281 to enquire about trips.
The team here at Havergate had a great weekend running the Spoonbill event on the 2nd and 3rd August. The sun continued to shine both days and the boat was full on all trips with first timers to the island and a few returning visitors.
Thankfully, the iconic Spoonbills were in attendance doing what they do best on Havergate - sleeping! However, that was fine, we managed to set the scope up on them and let visitors have a look. There were plenty of other waders feeding in the lagoons including redshank, dunlin and avocet as well as common terns with young chicks on the scrape in front of North Hide. Here are a couple of photos taken on Sunday by Daniel Nickells.
The RSPB run several events on the island throughout the year, the next event running this weekend on the 16th 17th and 18th August is the Havergate Adventure. Details of which can be found here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-369383
When heading out to the Island this week to do some preparation for the Havergate adventure weekend we had a real treat of seeing a harbour porpoise who was feeding at high tide. Maybe he will show up for some lucky visitors this weekend!?