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...
I have now been the South Suffolk Coast warden for 5 months, and what a 5 months it has been!
I have learnt the ropes on October Storm, our visitor boat without too much drama and got to know Havergate Island pretty well now. I have met many visitors who have spent time on the island all of whom have really enjoyed themselves and had a very special day seeing the birds, hares and other wildlife.
I had heard and seen the photos of the island after the incredible 2013 tidal surge and the damage it had caused, but when I arrived I could see the wonderful recovery the island had made and I could see that it had had no effect on the birds choosing to breed and feed or the insects that had obviously managed to survive. The recovery of the brown hares has been fantastic and the island is now alive with wintering wildfowl on the lagoons, waders on the small islands in the lagoons and huge numbers of geese.
I am now also going to be lucky enough to help get the islands infrastructure back up and running with a new hide taking the place of reception hide and gullery hide which were both damaged beyond repair. The new hide will offer a great view over two neighboring lagoons and give us another central point to welcome visitors onto the island.
The highlights for November have included 170 canada geese, nearly 600 wigeon, 800 Teal, over 100 Pintail, 230 Black tailed godwit, flocks of Dunlin, Avocet, Golden Plover, 4 Spoonbill are sticking around, Hen harrier and Marsh harrier to name but a few.
We have had a taste of winter the past couple of days, I am now looking forward to experiencing Havergate and what it can offer over the next few months when we will see these figures of wildfowl and waders rise and the lagoons become full of life.
We had an early start last week to meet Guinevere on the quay. Guinevere is the vehicle ferry over to Orfordness, however she is always happy to assist us getting supplies across and onto Havergate. Occasionally, when we have bigger jobs that need completing on the island the ferry allows us to take heavy materials over all at once- including tractors and diggers.
The main job at the moment is rebuilding the warden and volunteer accommodation huts on the island which were flooded in last Decembers tidal surge.
So, now we have all the materials and equipment on the Island we have the busy task of building ahead of us. It will certainly keep us warm this winter!
Havergate is looking great at the moment with birds galore on the lagoons. We still have 4 Spoonbills hanging around on North Lagoon, a female hen harrier offering us amazing views whilst she hunts along the longer grass on the sea wall, over 500 avocet and dunlin, over 500 teal and growing numbers of wigeon. Brent geese are making a racket as they fly overhead and Canada geese feeding on the islands. Other waders such as redshank, curlew and golden plover to name a few have all been sitting very close to the hides offering spectacular views for visitors.
It is certainly feeling colder now, especially on Havergate where there is little protection from the wind. If you are booked onto any trips make sure you are wearing sensible footwear and have waterproof clothing on you.