The RSPB is able to take even more birds under its wing on the Humber after gaining control of a part of the estuary, roughly the size of 57 football pitches.
Three years ago, the nature conservation organisation bought Hook Island on the River Ouse near Goole, which is home to a wealth of birds and rare insects. Now the RSPB has secured a 25-year lease for the mudflats surrounding the island. At low tide, this habitat provides a safe roost for wading birds such as lapwings and golden plovers, as well as pink-footed geese and little egrets, a rare type of heron.
In addition to sheltering birds from predators and human disturbance, the mudflats are also stuffed with creepy crawlies, offering a feast for wetland birds.
The Humber Estuary is one of the most important places in Europe for wildlife with hundreds of thousands of birds spending the winter there or stopping off for bed and breakfast before venturing further south. However, much of the habitat that attracts them to the estuary has been lost in recent years due to commercial development and rising sea levels. As a result, the RSPB is working to expand its landholdings on the Humber, and add to its existing reserves at Blacktoft Sands, Tetney Marshes, Whitton Island and Reads Island.
Pete Short, the RSPB’s Senior Site Manager for the Humber, says: “The Humber is a winter wonderland for birds that have travelled hundreds of miles to escape the harsh weather of the Arctic. But this special place for our wildlife is under constant threat so we are doing everything we can do to protect it. By leasing the mud flats, we can help protect this part of the Humber and secure its future for years to come.”