How quickly the year goes.....before we know it, residential volunteer Mike is back out on the island and getting straight back into the swing of island life. As usual I have a list of jobs ready for him to have a look at work through at his own pace. Being an island and prone to the worst of the weather here on the east coast, the place can start to look shabby very quickly, especially after the winter. This year we had guttering falling down from the sheds, doors which needed painting, paths that needed mowing.....well, its an endless list really so a good job we have Mike! Ill pass you over to him for his own update.
"This was my first residential visit to the island since the sea wall was lowered at the end of 2018. I was on the island then when the two diggers came on, and the innumerable rolls of heavy duty wire mesh to cover the lowered bank, but I only witnessed a few days of the work by the diggers before I left.
The work that has been undertaken is very impressive both in the realisation of the concept and the effect that it has had on water surge. This was evident when there was such a surge in early January and the water overtopped the newly lowered bank with much less energy, and so with less damage, than had the bank been higher. This concept had been proven some years before when a bank was similarly lowered at Doveys lagoon.
The RSPB staff and the volunteers who undertook the work should be congratulated. It was a monumental effort.
I arrived on the island on Friday 22 March with David Fairhurst. Quickly stowing my kit and food in the accommodation hut we then went for a walk along the island to view what was on the lagoons. Each and every day after I repeated this walk noting bird species that I saw. My list is as follows:
Common gull, lesser black backed gull and herring gull, grey heron, little egret, spoonbill (up to three at any one time), cormorant (several hundred roosting during the day), avocet, redshank, black tailed godwit, dunlin, ringed plover, curlew, lapwing, oystercatcher, Canada goose, brent goose, grey lag goose, meadow pipit, rock pipit, goldcrest, wheatear (male), chiff chaff, reed bunting, skylark, gadwall, shoveller, pintail, mallard, shelduck, teal, magpie, carrion crow, wood pigeon, pheasant (male), kestrel, osprey, ring tailed hen harrier, marsh harrier, red kite, barn owl and mute swan. Note that two barn owls were using the box at Cottage.
Of the non-bird species seen there were brown hares (up to 6 at any one time), voles, brown rats and peacock butterfly. The hares were in very good condition and chasing each other around as a prelude to mating.
Lyndsey, as always, had provided me with a list of very varied jobs and when she was next on the island we prioritised these. The jobs undertaken included: fitting non-slip tracking on the deck at main hide, painting the wooden surround to the Havergate sign at main hide, mowing the new path installed between the old gullery bridge and north hide (the two bridges at gullery and north have been removed), partly deconstructing the old bridges, removing the visitor centre sign at main and placing a sign near the start of the new path near north hide to guide people back to the Main hide, undertaking facility checks on all buildings on the island, painting exterior areas of the accommodation hut and tool shed, tidying tool shed and work shop, laying plastic matting rectangles on the path on the saltmarsh to protect the saltmarsh from erosion, salinity and depth level recording on each lagoon, cleaning jetty of weed, litter picking.
Whilst I was there, on both days of the first weekend, there was a guided walk and a trip for photographers. Both were well attended and several hares were sighted.
As always thanks go to Aaron, David and Lyndsey for allowing me to stay on the island"
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