Avocets to benefit from new coastal reserve breeding site

PUBLISHED: 05:31 15 June 2020

Avocets  - one of the symbols of Suffolk  - could benefit from work to create new wetland areas on Boyton Marshes Picture: BRIAN SMITH

Avocets - one of the symbols of Suffolk - could benefit from work to create new wetland areas on Boyton Marshes Picture: BRIAN SMITH

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Avocets – one of the best-known symbols of Suffolk – could see a rise in numbers if plans for a new 74-acre bird breeding area on the county’s coast are given the go-ahead.

Boyton Marshes Picture: AARON HOWEBoyton Marshes Picture: AARON HOWE

The RSPB wants to create a new freshwater lagoon on its Boyton Marshes reserve by excavating grassland to construct a scrape and scrubby island for breeding species and potential European colonising species.

These would include avocets, sandwich tern, redshank, terns, and various wintering species including ruff, herons and other wildfowl and potentially spoonbill.

Some 41,000 cubic metres of clay would be excavated to create the area on marshland at Flybury Point on the opposite side of the river to Havergate Island, providing standing water and a mosaic of islands, with the water coming from natural springs and draining into the River Ore.

In a detailed report on the project submitted to East Suffolk Council, Aaron Howe, site manager, RSPB South Suffolk Coast, said: “Boyton marshes has always held low numbers of breeding waders but in recent years numbers have been declining. This is possibly due to nearby Hollesley Marshes being more attractive following the creation of the new scrape in 2014 or increase in ground predators.

Avocet parent and chick Picture: OSCAR DEWHURSTAvocet parent and chick Picture: OSCAR DEWHURST

“The project has two primary aims: firstly it will help to offset the loss of the species (primarily avocet) from Havergate Island caused by the recent colonisation by large gulls, and damage due to frequency of storm surges; secondly, the project will help to reverse the decline of breeding lapwing and redshank on the Suffolk coast making a major contribution to the Suffolk Wader Strategy and increasing resilience to climate change.

“Secondary aims are to enable sandwich and common terns to be retained as breeding species (and possibly also allow little terns and ringed plover to re‐establish), providing habitat for a range of passage and wintering wildfowl and encourage regular breeding by spoonbills.”

Boyton Parish Council said: “We understand that construction will take place in a number of phases as funding becomes available, and that this initial phase will integrate well with the surrounding estuary landscape. We believe the project will attract new bird species to visit Boyton Marshes and will encourage biodiversity, while continuing the existing low-key appeal of the site. We therefore unanimously support this application.”

Avocet in flight at RSPB Minsmere Picture: PAUL CHAPMANAvocet in flight at RSPB Minsmere Picture: PAUL CHAPMAN

Boyton Marshes towards Orfordness Picture: PETER BEARDBoyton Marshes towards Orfordness Picture: PETER BEARD

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