You may have noticed recently a little bit of work going on around Hodbarrow particularly on the island in front of the hide. We've had a contractors on there doing work to reinvigorate the island for terns. In the process this is creating a bit of nice habitat for the end of winter into spring.
We've been using a large digger to scrape back vegetation from the island to uncover the limestone slag underneath. This is something that gets done every few years or when funding allows and it's an important tool in creating tip-top habitat for terns. Hodbarrow's pretty unique because of the lime stone slag, a by-product created through the process of iron ore smelting from when Hodbarrow was an iron ore mine. In other places around the UK terns, in particular little terns, normally prefer a different sort of place to nest. They are found on tidal beaches, some with shingle, some with sand. Having said that, nature being nature you can throw the book out every now an then and it tells you what it likes! Hodbarrow is a great example of this. Over the years with the increased nutrients put into the system from birds using the island throughout the year the vegetation can shoot up and soil starts to build up underneath. We do know that the terns prefer the uncovered limestone slag to nest on and will actively avoid areas of too much vegetation. The digger has been carefully scrapping back the top layer of material to uncover the terntastic habitat below. So far this has worked amazingly well and is part of a number of tern encouraging techniques we're undergoing this year. The new warden will be starting in March(well not exactly new ...Cara will be returning for another year hoping to build on her successes from last year!) . Finally we are fixing some of the glitches in the fence and repairing some of the damage from the winter storms in the next couple of weeks.
Sandwich terns are normally the first back to our shores in the Spring listen out from late March!
On a side note Dave and Stephen were out having a look this week and notice all of the winter birds attracted to the bare slag and mud that's been created (teal, lapwing and redshank). The last time we scraped the island back when I was Assistant warden down there we managed to get Long-Billed Dowitcher and Black-winged Stilt.....worth keeping an eye on that mud!
Digger on the island scraping back vegetation
Next job - repair the fencing. Water levels are surprisingly high for this time of year and with the bad weather or the 'beast from the east' approaching (don't blame me ...I read it in a newspaper!) wish us luck for donning the waders next week!
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654