Most people are thinking about birds at this time of year - but more of the cooking and eating variety! Well we haven't got turkeys on the island, but we have got geese! We are talking dark-bellied brent geese here, or if you like latin, Branta bernicla bernicla, the smallest goose in the country. They started to arrive in their family groups a month or two ago and it was lovely to hear the familiar honking as they flew up the Crouch Estuary.Not everyone welcomes them though - to our local farmers they are a pest, eating the crops and even worse paddling all over what they don't eat with their big webbed feet, damaging the young crops. However, as they are a species of European Conservation Concern and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act , they should not be on anyone's table next weekend. Farmers must resort to ever-inventive methods of scaring them from the crops.Those of us that are not protecting crops welcome them here each year . Brent Geese breed in the extreme high Arctic in all northern countries. The range extends from Greenland to Svalbard and northern Russia, continuing through Alaska to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. having had their breeding season in the north, as the winter sets in they fly south to feed and shelter along our coast and estuaries. As wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Britain are concentrated in relatively few areas,wider countryside conservation measures are not ideally suited to the conservation of the species. Many important grazing marsh and saltmarsh areas used for feeding are protected within nature reserves, such as nearby Old Hall Marshes RSPB Reserve in the Blackwater Estuary, where the grassland is managed specifically for Dark-bellied Brent Geese through appropriate grazing regimes.These birds fly thousands of miles each year, often in family groups, following each other in the familiar loose formations.This winter our keen-eyed birders spotted that two of these geese had been ringed, and subsequent enquiries revealed that it was a mother and daughter; the adult female had been caught and ringed last spring on Terschelling, Netherlands,with a young female (born in 2010),still together after more than one year. Although the weather as I write is forcing them to take shelter behind the seawalls, the mudflats of the developing Allfleets Marsh are a popular place for all the overwintering ducks and geese on Wallasea Island. Hopefully, over the coming holiday break we will get brighter days to entice us out to see them!Wishing you a happy christmas and merry new year.Normal blogging service will resume in January :)
As I look out of my office window, across the river to Burnham-on-Crouch, it looks like a Spring day - sun shining, grass green and a male blackbird rather hopefully chasing a female around the farmyard. Yes, the sap is rising unseasonable early and signs of a new season are all around us!With this hope of brighter days ahead come plans for the year's event season and piles of booking forms for marquees and portaloos. 2012 will be an exciting year for Essex , with the Olympics on our doorstep and the world's TV and sporting eyes on the area. But here on Wallasea Island, which is only an hour from Stratford's olympic arena, we could be a million miles away and will have enough excitement of our own . This year, at long last, visitors will finally see signs of construction of Europe's largest inter-tidal habitat creation project. Contractors BAM Nutall will return in the spring to continue the erection of the unloading facility for Crossrail's material which is expected to arrive by ship from July. To celebrate and showcase this activity, we have planned a calendar of events to entertain all sorts of visitors. In March, we will hold our first 'Wallathon'; inviting people to come along, with families and friends, to walk, run or cycle round the 8 mile bounds of our site - while they still can. These bounds will be broken in 6 places in years to come, with the flowing tides making much of it marshland and the new seawall paths will not circumnavigate the island.One event that we hope will become an annual fixture though, is our Wild Coast Paddle. last year 75 kayakers paddled right around the island, and we hope even more will join us in June this year. In July, we will have an official launch event with a variety of key stakeholders and friends of the project which will no doubt begin a long relationship with TV cameras and the media at large.Our now well established Wild Coast Weekend will be our grand finale for the summer. Brought forward to mid August this year, in the hope of catching the family holidaymakers and good weather. It will include all the favourites such as Woodford's hog roast and George's Wallasea Wench ale plus many new attractions still to be unveiled. Watch this space for regular updates as the season progresses.If you would like to check out the events in more detail they are all on our events page.
St Patrick's Day ( March 17) turned out to be what the Irish refer to as a 'soft' day, but it didn't deter the entrants to our Wallathon 2012! Our invitation to walk the bounds of RSPB Wallasea went out in all the local papers and on BBC Radio Essex and the enthusiasm with which this was received locally was amazing. The RSPB Walvol team turned out in force, and in great cheer, with a variety of green hats, shirts, trousers and boots to add a little fun to the day. Health and safety was added to by the sole member of the Wallasea Mountain Rescue Team! Thanks paul.:)
So as you might guess, we weren't downhearted by the dismal weather and neither were the participants. First up were a dozen cyclists, some having travelled by the newly launched ferry from Burnham-on-crouch. Following them were the runners, quite a few of which came from Rochford Council - great to see you guys!
And last but not least we had a surprising number of walkers - all dressed for the occassion in their wet weather gear - bringing the numbers of hardy people to 72! Had it been a day with weather the like of which we have had ever since the event we could have been inundated with energetic people wanting to walk the bounds of Wallasea - so let's hope we are able to run it again next year.
The Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project Local Liaison Group draws together members of key groups in the local community. The six-mionthly meetings are used to inform members of progress and to discuss/resolve any significant issues. The constitution of the group is dicated by our planning permission from Essex County Council.
We agreed at the last meeting that the notes should be available to a wider audeince, hence this blog with the output from the 27 February meeting attached.
Chris Tyas - RSPB Wallasea Island Project Manager
We are looking for writers who go wild over nature. If you love our wild coast and can write a short story or poem inspired by Wallasea Island we want to read it. Wild and windswept places have always inspired great writers and Essex has its fair share of poetry and prose to capture its remoter aspects. Now it’s time for local nature writers to explore Wallasea Island as their muse, and win themselves a prize.This week we have launched our first creative writing contest to find Wild Writers for the Wallasea project. Entries are invited from adults, primary school pupils or secondary school age students and may take the form of short stories (up to 3,000) words or poems. In the cold weeks ahead, over Christmas break and into the New Year why not wax lyrical and express your love of the wild coast. If the weather is kind, take an inspirational visit to the island, be inspired, and then retreat to the warmth to pen the winning entry. Entries should reach us by Monday January 10. For more details see our main Wallasea Island web page.