More than a year-and-a-half after the winter tidal surge that wreaked havoc on the Suffolk Coast, we can report that some of the hardest hit wildlife is showing signs of recovery. Surveys carried out after the tidal surge in 2013 failed to find certain plant species including yellow  fetch, which is a saltmarsh specialist and not very common on the South Suffolk Coast. It was feared this species had been lost from Havergate but surveys this year found it growing in a restricted area on the South end of the island. 

Havergate’s famous population of brown hares have made a remarkable recovery and are almost back to pre-storm surge levels. After the surge the numbers were very low with only a maximum of 6 being counted.  However, after regular monitoring and a recent count,  the island now has a healthy population up to as many as 18. Leverets have been seen lazing around on the shingle in amongst the gorse bushes and adults are often seen chasing each other along the sea walls.  

Photo: Christine Hall

Havergate is also having a successful season for its breeding birds. In recent years the island has become an important place for breeding gulls with numbers growing each year.  Some species of gull are now on the list of conservation concern including the herring gull which is a red listed species and the greater and lesser black-backed gulls which are amber listed species. This years count showed the island hosted 2399 pairs of lesser black backed, 614 pairs of herring gull and 1 pair greater black-backed gulls.  The island has been alive with gulls souring over head and chicks feeding in the shallow lagoons.

While the reserve’s wildlife has most certainly bounced back after the storm, the infrastructure that was damaged in the surge has needed a helping hand. 

We have been working hard this winter to repair the damage done by the storm. Volunteers have replaced the old hide, which was damaged beyond repair when the sea washed over the island, lifting it off its foundations. Now with the new hide in place visitors can again get great views looking out onto our main lagoon and see waders, wildfowl, gulls and spoonbills.

Spoonbills have been a regular on Havergate for the past 15 years using the lagoons to rest and feed. They can usually be seen from March all the way through till October, however this year we had 4 overwinter which was great to see