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

  • Gulls, gulls, gulls

    Over the last 2 months on Havergate we have been cracking on with the new hide (being built to replace main hide and Gullery hide which were both destroyed during the tidal surge)  As you can see from the photo we have had to get a lot of equipment and material out to the island but with the help of volunteers and the ferry we are just about there. At the other end of the island we have also been making progress on the volunteer accommodation hut. Again this was damaged with the tidal surge so we have had to completely gut it and replace the flooring and walls. Just a freshen up with paint and some new furniture to go in and we will be ready to welcome our first volunteer at the end of May.


    Currently Havergate is awash with Gulls squabbling on the lagoon islands and everywhere else really, it is quite an experience to hear and see! Havergate has Greater black backed, lesser black backed and herring gull nesting as well as black headed and common. The short eared owls have moved on, common gulls have turned up and the hares are still chasing each other around. The sea campion and thrift are threatening to make an appearance, just some more warm weather and the island will be full of colour again.

  • 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.