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Image: David J Morris
Havergate Island protects coastal wetland habitats, including saline lagoons, saltmarsh, mudflats, shingle and grazing marsh, and is home to avocets and Suffolk's only breeding Sandwich terns.
The RSPB is managing all these habitats for the benefit of their wildlife, while developing the adjoining Boyton Marshes for breeding birds.
Unfortunately, rising sea levels threaten the reserve. We have secured Havergate Island for now by upgrading the river wall. Over time we plan to develop compensatory habitats to replace any key habitats that are lost, and will expand Boyton Marsh into areas at less risk.
We are managing the island's saline lagoons to suit breeding and wintering birds, including avocets, common terns and Sandwich terns. Techniques include restricting ground cover on breeding islands, while controlling water levels and salinity. We will also provide more feeding edges, create deepwater refuges for invertebrates, and control nest predators such as foxes and gulls.
We will manage our 4 ha of vegetated shingle for the benefit of its specialised invertebrates and plants, such as smooth yellow vetch, ensuring that it remains undisturbed except for essential maintenance and monitoring.
We will maintain 57 ha of coastal grazing marsh at Boyton to suit its breeding redshanks and lapwings, wintering wildfowl, and aquatic plants and invertebrates. Work will include selective winter flooding, grazing with cattle, controlling invasive vegetation and maintaining water levels. We will also create more feeding edges, manage hedges and conduct regular patrols. The marsh will offer a good example of wet grassland management.
We will also maintain 194 ha of saltmarsh for at least 15 pairs of breeding redshanks, as well as important plants such as small cordgrass and invertebrates such as the ground lackey moth.
We will inform our management of the reserve by monitoring all its wildlife – especially breeding waders, lagoon invertebrates, rare moths and plants, and mammals such as brown hare and water vole. We will also map the use of breeding islands by birds, and will monitor lagoon water levels and salinity. Our findings should allow us to contribute to research projects elsewhere.