Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit Havergate Island for the first time this year to help Dave and Aaron to lead walks for some of the RSPB's Sea Life Guardians.
Havergate is always a magical place, but it was even more special yesterday with warm sunshine, unbroken blue sky for most of the day and barely a breath of wind - plus of course some amazing wildlife and friendly visitors.
Any trip to Havergate starts on Orford Quay, but it doesn't often look as calm as this.
The herring gulls were waiting to greet us as we landed on the jetty.
Once on the island, I had an hour to myself before my group arrived, so headed to Belpers Hide and on to look for the hares.
The saltmarsh flowers were well past their best but a few patches of sea lavender remained in flower.
The samphire, however, had turned many of the lagoon islands a stunning red.
The hares were still quite easy to spot near the volunteer chalets, although they certainly don't allow you to get as close as they used to. During the course of the day I saw at least four different hares, which after December's devastating surge tide was great news. The volunteer staying on the island this week had been watching them drinking the morning dew from the grass (there is no fresh water on the island) then sunning themselves on the shingle.
Soon it was time for my group to arrive and we went in search of some of the island's wildlife. We weren't disappointed, as we followed a migrant meadow pipit along the path for 200 metres. From North Hide sightings including spoonbill, 25 little egrets, 600 avocets, 250 redshanks and 150 curlews on the lagoons. Back at the hares we spotted a painted lady butterfly, along with good numbers of small heath, small copper, small and green-veined white butterflies and migrant hawker dragonflies. A marsh harrier quartering the bank flushed an impressive flock of 50 linnets, while at least six kestrels were seen hunting the marshes during the day. Although few smaller birds are seen on the island I did glimpse what looked like a garden warbler (a reserve rarity) and a chiffchaff in patches of scrub.
Later, with the second group of the day we saw a pristine summer plumage grey plover as well two already in winter plumage, and a winter plumage bar-tailed godwit.
Eventually it was time to leave the island...
...but not before spotting this beauty resting on the quay. I know it's a shieldbug, but not sure of the species
I really could not have visited on a better day.
Unfortunately, the weekend saw our last event of the year on Havergate, so we are now back to just one trip on the first Saturday of each month. The next availability is on Saturday 6 December. Next year's programme isn't finalised yet, but we hope to start taking booking in early October for January onwards. Call 01728 648281 to enquire about trips.
I'm so pleased that you enjoyed such beautiful weather for your trip, Ian. Sounds like it was entirely worthwhile - and your photos are very nice.
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