It has been great the last few weeks to see how the newly-created landscape looks now the water has come in with tide. This weekend we will see the tide enter some of the lagoons that haven't yet filled with water. Some of the low lying lagoons have filled already like the picture below shows but those higher and nearer to the sea wall remain dry.
On Saturday11th July the diggers took 3 sections of the old sea wall away and this has allowed the sea in. We will over the next few days see how the area looks now we are getting some higher spring tides.
The 11th July was a great day for everyone involved and many people came to watch the diggers at work and water coming in. This is the culmination of Crossrail’s work on Wallasea Island, forming the new landscape and creating a new seawall. Soil from tunnel and station shaft excavations has been brought to Wallasea Island over the last 3 years in over 1500 ship journeys.
As high tide receded the diggers were at work lowering the sea wall and excavating the central channel. They were just finishing their work at the end of the afternoon when the water came back through. Barring the 1953 floods, sea water had not been on Wallasea for the last 400 years!
Shipping in of Crossrail spoil has currently ceased until February as the contractors are busy working on large water control structures in preparation for the sea wall breaching in the summer. This momentous occasion will be a huge milestone for the project and we hope to celebrate this in July of this year.Crossrail have now imported nearly 3 million cubic tonnes of spoil from the tunneling under London and the reserve is slowly starting to look more like a nature reserve than farmland.
Water vole by Dave GonningThe wardening team are currently working on our new water vole habitat on the southern part of the reserve, planting club rush in the recently dug ditch system. A huge thank you is due to our amazingvolunteers for their sterling efforts in the porridge like conditions!
On the wildlife front wader numbers are good, with impressive flocks of golden plover and lapwing gathered on the wet grassland scrapes, footdrains and saline lagoon. The reserve is attracting lots of raptors and we currently have a rough legged buzzard, at least eight short eared owls, marsh harriers, ring tailed hen harriers, buzzard, kestrel, peregrine, merlin and barn owl displaying proudly across the reserve. Also, the “jangling keys” chorus of corn bunting is evidence of good numbers across the site. Large flocks of stock dove can be seen wheeling over the reserve and we have small groups of fieldfare feeding on the farmland pastures.Brown hares are a regular and welcome site throughout the reserve and weasel sightings have also been on the increase recently.
Have you been to Wallasea recently? What have you spotted whilst you have been out and about?
We’ve had an increase in visitors the last few weeks, both human and avian...
Short-eared owl by Russell Sherriff
Many visitors to the reserve have come to catch some great views of the hen harriers, marsh harriers and short-eared owls that are hunting across the reserve daily. Some have taken some great images of these birds hunting across the rough grassland and wild bird cover. I wish I was as good a photographer!
We have also seen our annual increase in wader and waterfowl numbers on the lagoons and mud flats. A large flock of over 300 black-tailed godwits along with a few hundred lapwing can be seen on the lagoons, along with smaller numbers of golden plover and ringed plover.
Crossrail are continuing their work as best they can now the ground conditions have become so wet. They have imported over 90% of the material they are bringing in and once you have crossed the footbridge, you can now see the work up close to the sea wall. Channels have been created to spread the incoming sea water across the area, and you can see lagoons which will stay wet even on a low tide and islands which the birds will be able to use for roosting and nesting.
Believe it or not at this time of year it is well worth a visit!
Rachel Fancy - Wallasea Island and Foulness Warden