If you are looking out the window at the wind and rain and want to know what is happening on Wallasea Island, or you are separated from us by land or sea ( hello Burnham and Banbridge!), there is a nice dry, comfortable way to see the what is happening on the island.Regular visitors may have noticed our webcam mast, standing tall about half way ( 1 mile) along the public footpath on the Northern side of the island.This was erected for the original 'Wallasea Wetlands' project a few years ago, when Defra created 115ha of new saltmarsh which RSPB have since managed for them. It originally showed the slowly developing saltmarsh stretching west and east - which lets face it,while interesting to a specialist audience, is not dynamic footage! Recently the camera has been under repair,due to the elements on the Wild Coast being at times not very friendly to small turbines that power the camera. Now that it is once again fully functional, it is perfectly placed to show the whole island as we turn back the years and recreate the saltmarsh islands of old.Live images are now available from this camera, thanks to the work of Carnyx TV. The webpages show images in 7 different directions and also show the material handling area and berm upon which the conveyor belt will run from the new jetty. So as construction continues this Spring, and when ships eventually commence delivery of Crossrail material from July, armchair viewers may explore the island and watch progress from the warmth of their own laptops! There is also animations linked from this page, showing a speeded up footage of the construction done last autumn and another of the tide ebbing and flowing ( for those who think the tide always seem to be out!)To see the images click on http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/casework/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-235089 and then follow the 'useful ink' to the webcam on the bottom right hand side.Once you have explored this page the time lapse animations may be found on the top right hand corner of this page. Hope this will encourage you to come and see for yourselves once the rain stops...
At last! A window in the awful weather allowed the contractors to tug the first half of our unloading facility pontoon into place this morning. It was a bit of a foggy, 'soft' morning fo photos but it was great to see the dark shape coming up the River Crouch out of the mists.
Two 76 metre long pontoons will join to create a single jetty, at which ships will unload the essential ingredient for our new nature reserve. Each ship will carry up to 2.5 thousand tons of excavated earth from the Crossrail tunnels being dug, deep down under central London. Once firmly in place, this jetty will accommodate two ships at a time. The equipment on the jetty will include four unloading machines, two on each pontoon, with conveyors feeding hoppers which in turn feed an 800 metre central conveyor that carries the material across the marsh to shore. On the island side of the seawalls, a radial stacker arm will stockpile the clean excavated material in a carefully prepared part of the site before it is placed in carefully planned areas to recreate the new mudflat and saltmarsh levels.
So as you can guess, its quite a sight down there at the moment! Unfortunately the huge amount of rain has made the site pretty sticky, but the seawall is free draining so walkers may walk along to, and beyond, the crossing point on the seawall. From there you may look seaward viewing the long conveyor belt running down the berm and across the marsh to the pontoon , or landward where the conveyor continues down to the radial stacker. Of course, there is still a good mile or so to walk beyond that to get to the far end of the public footpath, which remains open throughout. For the armchair viewers, there is always the view from the webcam though. (http://www.carnyx.tv/CarnyxWild/WallaseaIsland.aspx.)
Hopefully, the sun is not too far away and it will soon entice visitors to go and see for themselves. Our Flickr site has photos from this morning and will be updated once the second half of the pontoon is also in place. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rspb_wallasea_island_wild_coast_project/sets/)
Some days you just have to get out in the sunshine - but not many have as good an excuse as we had today!! After the recent expert confirmation that what we had found on the marsh was actually the motor of a German V2 rocket from WWII, we had a race against time to retrieve it before the contractors cut off our access with the start of development of the construction site for cell 1.
Volunteers swiftly moved into position this morning, ably supervised by Ellen Heppell from the ECC Archaeology Field Team. We soon discovered that there was more of it under the marsh than above so plenty of spades made light work and eventually it was free of the sticky essex mud and our friends from HP Elderton skillfully lifted it over the seawall and transported it to a place of security.
This wonderful find will now require some careful conservation so that we may use it in future as part of our education and heritage display. WWII is just one era which we hope to bring to life for future audiences, as we develop our facilities and events and activities can be more creative.
For the full story check out our Flickr pages on http://www.flickr.com/photos/rspb_wallasea_island_wild_coast_project/sets/
As friends will certify, I'm not often speechless, but we were all gobsmacked to see 70 colourful kayaks heading for the causeway on Sunday - it wasn't that we weren't expecting them, but there was more than twice as many as initially predicted!Our first Wild Coast Paddle proved a runaway, or should that be paddle away, success. Watersport enthusiasts from all over the country travelled to the Crouch valley to pit themselves against the Essex elements and circumnavigate Wallasea Island, in response to a challenge thrown down by the Wild Coast Project team and Canoe England. It was quite a spectacle for anyone in the area at the time.Traffic came to a halt while staff and volunteers helped the paddlers carry the vessels across the causeway on foot, as the high tide was not high enough to cover the road on the day. Once afloat again they headed off into the River Roach in search of seals and other wildlife. By the time they reached the North East corner of Wallasea, most were more than ready for the warming cup of RSPB tea or coffee on offer, before the final frontier - the battle up the Crouch back to Burnham against the wind and tide.Certificates are on their way to those who survived, but in the meantime, those needing proof for disbelieving friends and relatives should take a look at our brand new Flickr account - opened especially in honour of this event. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rspb_wallasea_island_wild_coast_project/collections/
My kayak theme then continued this week with a visit from the Essex Islands Challenger, Hugh Turner. Wallasea was the last island Hugh set foot on in his RNLI fundraising voyage round all 35 islands in Essex.Essex has more islands off its coast than any other English county. Some are large and populated, like Canvey, Wallasea and Mersea, some are inhabited but private such as Horsey and Osea, others may be little more than marshy hummocks rising above the tideline, but all are shown as definite islands on the charts. The nearest is but 30 miles from the heart of London, and the furthest just under 100 miles, though many are in wild, remote locations that feel a long way from anywhere, and have evocative names like Fobbing Horse, Packing Shed Island, Sunken Island and Honey Island.I met Hugh on his way back from Bridgemarsh Island,to fortify him with a quick chat,a cup of coffee and a rather large and yummy chocolate cookie, before he paddled on down to a reception at the RNLI in Burnham-on-Crouch. If you would like to find out more and donate to Hugh's fund, take a look at http://www.justgiving.com/hugh-turner. His picture is on our Flickr pages too. We hope to see Hugh back on Wallasea for a proper tour of our project soon - if not, I may have to kayak north to find him!
Each summer, walkers and residents round Canewdon village, just up the road from Wallasea Island, often hear the unmistakeable,gentle purring sound of Turtle doves. Some are lucky enough to see them in their back gardens! So you may be surprised to know that this very special summer visitor is a 'bird on the brink', of extinction.So up stepped some of our local heroes for nature - the Essex Birdwatchers Society, ably steered by our very own Frank Vargas, Essex Farmland Bird Conservation Officer working from our offices on Wallasea Island. These TD champions have been working alongside the RSPB since last year, to find ways of supporting the main key elements of Operation Turtle Dove - with the 'Essex Farmland Bird Conservation Conference' in September, the restoration of habitat for Turtle doves, support of local farmers by providing expensive essential seed mix and recording the birds’ presence around Essex. Operation Turtle Dove, launched this week by the RSPB, leading sustainable farming specialists Conservation Grade and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust in Norfolk, is a three-year project to reverse the decline of one of England’s best-loved farmland birds.Turtle Doves are more often heard than seen, and their distinctive song has long been a characteristic sound of summer. From The Bible to the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare, the turtle dove is well known in literature and folklore as a symbol of love and devotion. But numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years and there are now just nine birds for every 100 there were in the 1970s. These birds are on the brink of extinction and many prefer to spend their summers in Essex. The RSPB is hoping that people in Essex who are lucky enough to hear or see Turtle doves in their area will step up for nature and tell us where their local birds are, to help target the project’s research and advice to farmers and to establish any turtle dove zones around the country. Please report your turtle dove sightings at www.operationturtledove.org or come along to the EBwS conference at Stow Maries in September. - http://www.ebws.org.uk/ebs/default.asp