National Trust rangers at Northey Island in Essex, with support from volunteers, have recorded record numbers of two protected bird species following the re-routing of the island’s power infrastructure.
Northey Island is the single largest block of saltmarsh in the Blackwater Estuary and is a haven for a huge variety of wildlife due to its peaceful location and unique biodiversity of habitats, and attracts many species of overwintering waterfowl and wading birds. In January, the team recorded 3,875 dunlins (which are a red listed species on the Birds of Conservation Concern) on the island, beating the previous record of 3,510 recorded in 2015 – an increase of 10 per cent and representing 1.1 per cent of the total population which overwinters in the UK. Northey Island is also a key overwintering site for dark-bellied brent geese (on the amber list for protection) and in January 1,710 geese were recorded on the island, the highest number for seven years. These new records are especially important due to the sad decline of bird species in the UK, with 38 million birds being lost from our skies in the last 50 years.
David Mason, ranger for the National Trust at Northey Island said: “The increase in numbers is likely due to the re-routing of overhead power lines underground and the removal of poles which has opened up a large section of the island and created improved landing areas for the birds for feeding and resting during their annual migrations."
As well as record numbers of dark-bellied brent geese and dunlins, the team have also seen increased numbers in other bird species, including curlews, avocets and lapwings, all of which are also at risk of decline.
The electricity poles were removed and the cables placed underground in preparation for a major milestone in managed realignment works on the island which seek to strengthen and improve its saltmarsh habitat.
Posted On: 05/05/2023