Havergate River Trip

This weekend saw the inaugural river trip around Havergate Island on Regardless.  Regardless is a bit larger than the RSPB's own boat October Storm and the idea is to combine a visit to the island with a wider view of the area from the boat.  There were plenty of Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank and the occasional Dunlin rootling in the mud as we headed away from Orford, the castle dominating the skyline as always.

A kestrel hunted the riverbanks in the sunshine (bit too far away for the small lens I had with me, but what the heck!) and curious gulls wandered over our heads looking hopefully for freebies

As we headed down the landward side of Havergate (this piece of the river is called The Gull on old maps), we passed the ruined landing stage where cattle were transported to and from the island in the late 18/early 1900s, a reminder that Havergate wasn't always an isolated nature reserve.  We started to come across more waders on the island - some left, like this Godwit, but the Avocets either ignored us or got annoyed with some "No cameras!" kind of action

The Herring Gulls weren't quite so worried about us, this one just stared at us as we drifted past!

As we headed up the Butley River away from Havergate, with Teal, Widgeon, Greylag & Canada geese showing nicely, we moved past part of RSPB Boyton Marshes.  Boyton isn't a well known reserve, but it's worth a visit if you're in the area, you can walk along the river path down to Hollesley and Shingle Street if you're keen.

Laying on the mud on the edge of the reserve were these chaps, eyeing our every move.  They were clearly used to the boat and provided you don't jump around too much, happy to stay still and show off their lazing skills

The unusual colouring is caused by certain muds apparently.  Certainly makes for a fetching look!

Back to the main river and our trip carried on round the bottom end of the island (Dovey's Point)  The Dovey's end of the island was flooded in the recent storm surge but appears to have escaped unscathed.  Plenty of Cormorants were hanging round at this end of the island, but most excitement was caused by a sighting of what we all thought was a Short Eared Owl at first glance.  They do hang round the island quite a bit, but in this case it turned out to be a Buzzard sat on the fence near Dovey's hide.  Again, a bit far for the camera, but at least it allowed an ID

We finally landed on the island around midday and strolled along to Main hide.  We were excited to find a number of owl pellets near the steps over the sea wall & Mrs WJ has one soaking as I type, so tonight's job will be to dissect it and try to work out what's been on the menu recently.

All the fresh air had clearly worked on everyone's appetite as backpacks were opened once we got into the hide and iron rations demolished.  No time for photos as we shared the 'scope, spotting Spoonbills (leaving!), lots of Avocets, a goodly variety of duck, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Redshank, Godwit, gulls, Cormorants & a Marsh Harrier.  The 40 minutes vanished like smoke and we were soon on the way back to the jetty, avoiding the collapsed section of path caused by the recent tides, a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable the island is.

Back on the boat, past the evocative reminder of times past on the Ness and back to Orford in time for lunch.  A few spits of rain as we tied up emphasised our perfect timing.

Boarding the boat to leave - the cranes on the skyline are Felixstowe dock believe it or not!


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  • As promised, Mrs WJ dissected the owl pellet & I thought it might be interesting to put the result up. First the pellet itself, not exactly exciting, but definitely some bones visible

    Lots of teasing with tweezers later, a big pile of fur and lots of little bones

    Including two skulls - this one is tiny, but clearly has sharp teeth - a shrew maybe?

    We then soaked the bones in Milton to clean them up a bit & this was the second skull.  Bigger, clearly a rodent, but not sure which to be honest!

    It was fascinating to see what came out of the pellet, we'll have to search for more now :-)


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