Mrs WJ and I had the opportunity to stay on Havergate Island for a couple of nights at the weekend. It was glorious weather (very hot at times) and a truly amazing experience. We went over on the boat with some regular "first Saturday" visitors, but waved goodbye to them when they left in the afternoon. That left us all alone on Suffolk's only island - truly cast away from civilization. We were probably the most isolated people in Suffolk. Well, as isolated as you can get with a mobile phone for emergencies, but you know what I mean!
Our home for the three days was the Warden's accommodation hut - basic but comfortable with a cooker and fridge and even a couple of lights (fed by a small wind turbine and batteries). That's about it - no running water, though there is at least a compost loo available
Once everyone had gone, we took a walk down the south end of the island to Dovey's hide - we don't get down that end very often (it's a bit of a no-go area during the breeding season due to all the nesting big gulls. They've been known to attack!). We managed to reach the safety of the hide unscathed however, to see what was about. The first thing that's obvious is the lower section of seawall here - you can see passing boats to remind you of your island status. The lower walls allow Doveys to flood more easily, but also drain away without damaging the walls (and it acts as a flood defense for the mainland in doing so). The water is all saline on the island, so no damage is done in a flood.
Down this end of the island, you'll find all the Avocets hanging out
and for a change, some Spoonbills. They were quite mobile all weekend, appearing at times in most areas
Though the Lesser Black Backed Gulls were definitely in charge
On the way back to the hut for dinner, we found a small bucket on the beach. The tides throw up lots of rubbish along the river, it's one of the problems with any coastal reserve, so we picked it up and put it to good use, collecting some bits & bobs on the way back
After dinner we sat outside watching the world go by, but were disturbed by a lot of noise from the nearby owl box. Eventually, the guilty party popped out to look around
Clearly the Barnie was waiting for someone..... Ah, that's who! Nearly dark by now, 1/50 sec shutter speed is awfully low for 840mm of lens!
I don't think we could complain about that to end the day :-)
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Morning starts early when you're on the Island, the lightening sky gets you out of bed for some more atmospheric pictures in the opposite direction
It's impossibly quiet and peaceful and Suffolk's big skies make for stunning sunrises. The buildings are "Pagoda" test facilities from the Cold War on Orford Ness. You're not human if you're unaffected by the atmosphere in this part of the world....
The cool, dewy morning brought the Hares out - they'd been difficult to see the day before, it was simply too hot to be up and about. These two hung around together all weekend. Mother and grown up young I wonder?
You need to be quick though, they don't hang around waiting for you to take pictures when there's dew to be drunk
Inspired by our small bucket of plastic the day before, we decided to do a proper litter pick around a couple of the scrapes. Despite it not necessarily being the best day to do such a thing (very hot), we started early and carried on later in the day, avoiding the mid-day sun (proving we're not completely mad!). We did get a bit distracted at times by the plant life - gotta love a teasel
and the Gatekeepers were lovely to see
Another culinary masterpiece on the little gas stove and we were ready for bed again - with the obligatory check on the neighbours of course!
In reply to Whistling Joe:
Final day and we were up early to finish off our cleanup. Mrs WJ was determined to get a big piece of netting she''d seen the day before, so with a quick Good Morning to the Hares
and a brief bit of Wader Identification in the new Cottage hide
it was off to finish Belpers sea wall. Well, after just one more pic - who could resist loved up LBBs?
We finished the wall just as Lyndsey appeared with the boat to rescue us. Alas, time was against us, so we had to leave a final couple of heaps on the wall for the regular Work Party to collect later this week, but even so, we were pleased with the pile of junk we managed to build. There's also something strangely satisfying, fighting loose bits of plastic, ropes, nets, party balloons and whatnot from the mud and rocks on the sea wall. Doubtless after another storm, more will wash up, but at least this little lot won't be fed to a young bird by mistake, or tangle up a fledgling
Wow. A very worthwhile way to spend a weekend - not just the birding but your great efforts to clear up the rubbish! Beautiful photos, as always.
Our herring gulls are red listed birds. Think about that the next time you hear some flaming idiot calling for a cull of them.
In reply to Clare:
What an interesting read WJ and fabulous photos as always; sounded such a wonderful experience and nice to be "far from the madding crowd" on your own hideaway island with just about sufficient facilities ! What a treat you got with the Barn Owl, Waders, Gulls and Hares, etc, certainly a haven you don't mind being abandoned on for a short time and well done helping to tidy up the shoreline as the incoming tide threw more plastic and junk onto the island, just goes to show how much is out there around the world when you can find so much in one small area ! Could have used that piece of old jute rope for moth trapping as I have my bottle of cheap plonk and sugar ready for the syrup to soak the rope in lol
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
In reply to HAZY:
A cracking set of photos WJ especially the Barn Owl.
I think I could stay 2 or 3 days on there.
My Flickr photos
In reply to Alan.:
A great read, WJ, with great photos to go with it. We always collect as much plastics as we can on a visit to the coast.....if only every person who visited the coast would do the same.
My bird photos HERE
In reply to Paul A:
A fridge AND a cooker, well almost luxurious I would say!!! Sounds
like a good three days holiday and gorgeous photos for us to peruse. Bad news really seeing all the rubbish you picked up, when is it going to end, I have always hated seeing the rubbish thrown out for animals etc to get tangled up in, now of course we hear horrid things about the plastic deep in the ocean.
Lot to learn
Great photos, Havergate is a special place.
In reply to gaynorsl:
gaynorsl said:I have always hated seeing the rubbish thrown out for animals etc to get tangled up in
It's certainly sobering when you start working your way along and realise just how much is there. It's not even as though it's just stuff dumped locally. At this point it's still a few miles to the sea, yet we came across rope that must have tethered an aircraft carrier or something - a full six inches in diameter.
It has to be said though, the most annoying thing were the gulls. They kept drifting overhead and laughing at us playing tug of war with muddy rubbish. You'd think they would be a bit more appreciative! :-)
You should know by now that gulls have a very warped sense of humour. Saying that, perhaps laughing was their way of showing their appreciation - you never know!
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