Havergate Island is not only an important place for birds, hares and flora, there are a lot of smaller things you don’t always think about! Myself and Steve a local volunteer recently spent a couple of days with Ian Dawson a spider expert out on Havergate Island looking at spiders.
Coastal Suffolk is an area of outstanding importance for spiders. The combination of shingle, saltmarsh, reedbed, and coastal grassland, coastal heaths and sand dunes all contribute to a unique and internationally important spider fauna including at least 6 RDB species.
We spent the day on the island sieving debris along the tide line and sweep netting the grass on the sea walls and then looking at what species we found. Most of the species we found are little black things which are hard to identify with a hand lens and so Ian took them away with him to id, but we did find some interesting jumping spiders and wolf spiders and also a Dysdera crocota (see pic) an impressive looking spider which feeds on woodlice.
I am now a spider convert and am keen to carry on surveying them on the island and my other reserves.
Photo Credit: Steve Everett
Winter is my favorite time of year when it comes to Havergate Island. It is cold, windy, isolated and absolutely stunning! Winter is the time I see the short eared owls hunting over the saltmarsh and the marsh harriers gliding along the seawall. Barn owls, kestrels, Hen harrier and peregrines have also been regularly seen.
The volunteer work party are still working hard, we are preparing to extend our hide at the North end of the island to accommodate more people looking out onto North Lagoon, and we have also been working on the accommodation huts and generally tidying up the area. I have a never ending list of things to do on the island and with all this wind we have had recently I have added replace felt roofing on the huts to it!
Winter is a fairly quiet time of year on Havergate with minimal habitat work. We opened up the sluices and let the lagoons fill up to cover most of the islands. Doing this kills off a lot of the vegetation on the islands and makes them more favorable for nesting birds come spring and also makes the lagoons as a whole more favorable for wildfowl. On our last full island count we had over 400 wigeon, 67 Pintail, 700 Teal, 70 Gadwall and 163 Shoveler. I also had up to 6 Goldeneye last month on our small lagoon cottage flood.
Doveys lagoon looking full Jan 2016
Unfortunately due to the wind we have had to cancel 3 of our visitor trips (Nov, Dec and Jan) but I did manage to get a group onto the island for our wildfowl event on the 23rd Jan. We all had a great afternoon despite the fog rolling in over the island making it impossible to see out of the hides. Thankfully it had cleared within half an hour just in time for the boat trip back to Orford Quay.
To see dates and information about our trips please see www.rspb.org.uk/havergateisland. All booking information can be found here or call Minsmere on 01728 648 281 for more details.
It is that time of year again when we take October Storm out of the water to antifoul her and have her annual inspection (which she passed with flying colours!) We had an exciting trip up the River away from Havergate towards Aldeburgh where she was hauled out on a trailer. Whilst she is on the trailer we get the opportunity to antifoul the hull and really check it over and make sure everything is in good condition.
However she has been out of the water for 2 weeks now due to having some work done on her prop shaft and some other minor repairs. We plan to get her back in the water tomorrow and I am looking forward to getting to Havergate and seeing what is about.