Why the hills? Well we have a lot of work to do each year on our tern islands. In the autumn we clear the weeds then in late winter we start again by removing the vegetation that has grown since we were last on the islands. This year that was not too difficult, mainly hemlock on Paddy's and chickweed on Saltholme island. However we found that the winter weather had undermined the timber that protects the islands from erosion. So the estate team (Toby and Keith with us, the volunteers) took timber and tools over to the islands to spend a few days working on these defences, and remodeling Saltholme island to give better views from the hide. Time will tell but we think we have done enough to last the next few years.
Meanwhile 25 tonnes of cockle shell had been delivered to the reserve. With shovels, gator (the motor buggy) and the little boat we shifted the shells to cover the islands in the best tern nesting material, first on Saltholme then Paddy's. We were just about to level the mounds when avocets showed an interest in nesting, so we left them in peace and the little hills will stay untill after the nesting season.
As the photo shows, the terns have come back from Africa and, oblivious to the hills, are choosing nest sites. Meanwhile we will put the boat to bed and start our summer jobs of cutting the grass, maintaining paths and general maintenance.