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

  • Full steam ahead

    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. 

  • Come rain or shine

    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.

  • An island in the sun

    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.