Havergate Island

Havergate Island

Havergate Island
Welcome to the Havergate community group. Havergate is a magical place, Suffolk’s only island! The reserve is nestled within the Alde & Ore estuary and is well known for its year round bird spectacle.

Havergate Island

  • Happy Hares

    At the end of March we hosted our annual hare weekend. However unfortunately due to bad weather we had to cancel the Sunday trip. On the Saturday visitors enjoyed watching and photographing the hares, 2 of which very obligingly sat pretty much all day out in the open moving only an inch or so to make themselves comfortable.

    The hares on Havergate island were introduced in the 1930s probably as a food source for the farming community living there at the time. The population has always stayed pretty steady at about 30 hares only really suffering major loss during the large tidal surges. However the population always seem to recover and steadily rise again.

    Hares breed between February and September so it’s not surprising we have already spotted a Leveret (baby hare). We guess it is about 4 weeks old and we often see him sunning himself on the shingle next to the huts. Sorry about the picture I only had my phone on me! But you can see how well camouflaged they are

    Here are some interesting facts about the Havergate hares put together by Sue one of our havergate guides.

    • Hares are the UKs fastest land mammal reaching speeds of around 45 mph. Havergate island is about 2 miles long, so a hare could run from one end to the other in around 2 minutes 40 seconds!
    • Hares live above ground and don’t burrow like rabbits. They make a shallow dip in the ground to rest in, often backing onto a tussock of grass – this is called a ‘form’.
    • New-born rabbits are blind, deaf and bald, but are born in the safety of an underground burrow; conversely, baby hares are born above ground in a shallow nursery form. They are born with eyes open, well developed  senses and a fur coat. 

  • Spring is in the air

    We are nearly at the end of winter and Havergate is already starting to show signs of Spring. The Gulls have started appearing in ever increasing numbers sitting on territory, the gorse is budding and the Hares appear to be getting livelier. Reed buntings have been singing from their perches and skylarks can be heard across the island on a peaceful day.

    We have been preparing the island for the oncoming breeding season by getting out on the lagoon islands in our waders to strim back the vegetation. This makes the islands more preferable to nesting birds and also makes it easier for us to monitor and count them. We also took some time to re-build the spoonbill nesting platforms to make them more appealing to potentially nesting spoonbills. We also took this opportunity to spruce up our two resident plastic spoonbills.

    If you visit the island this year you will see a few changes. Main hide has been knocked down. This got badly damaged in the tidal surge along with Gullery Hide so the decision was made to take them down and replace them with one slightly larger hide. This new hide will give visitors a wider view of the lagoons. We have also completed the compost toilet which is situated by the huts. This toilet is much more eco friendly and doesn’t look to out of place on the island. 

  • Looking ahead on Havergate

    Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy new year from all the team here at Havergate.

    The year has started very blustery and we have also had few very high tides. We managed to fit in the first visitor trip of the year on the 3rdJan on one of the recent calmer days. Despite being extremely wet everyone had a good day with plenty of birds out on the lagoons. We still have 4 Spoonbills braving our winter here, great views of a ring tail Hen harrier and 2 Short Eared Owls were entertaining visitors flying close to them hunting small mammals in the long grass. The other highlight of the day for those with keen eyes was the Golden eye in amongst the hundreds of wildfowl on main lagoon. 

    Its going to be an exciting year for Havergate. This last year we have been working hard to repair the island after the tidal surge in 2013. We had Toby the digger driver working for 10 days repairing the sea walls and finishing of the spillway. He also helped us knock main hide down which was damaged beyond repair in the surge and set the new base up for our new hide which is currently being built. This hide will offer a great view across main lagoon. We have started work on the volunteer huts, one of which is getting a re-vamp and lastly we are half way through fixing and building the new compost toilet. It will be great to move away from the chemical toilets which we have always had on the island for volunteers and visitors to use. So far the base has been dug into the ground and secured with concrete so only the chimney can be seen. We will hopefully get out over the next couple of weeks to build the cabin.

     The compost loo so far...