Rare birds at half-finished English nature reserve

White-rumped sandpiper, right, and curlew sandpiper, left, on the Stearts nature reserve - photo courtesy of Tim Kay

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare birds already showing up on half-finished new reserve in Somerset

September 2012. A rare white-rumped sandpiper is the latest unexpected arrival on the Steart peninsula in Somerset. It is currently recovering on a flooded field, despite being surrounded by one of the biggest construction projects in the south west. The bird, which has been blown off course on its migration from Canada to South America, has been attracting bird watchers since the weekend.

Creating one of the UK’s largest wetland reserves

It is the latest in a string of rare birds to be spotted, prompting speculation about the peninsula in Somerset, which is being transformed into one of the country’s largest wetland nature reserves.

Tim McGrath from Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust has been working closely with the Environment Agency, which is creating the nature reserve before handing it over to WWT to manage. He said: “It is rather unexpected. We’re in the middle of construction so there are a number of very large diggers rumbling around the site. There’s one small field that hasn’t drained and it has been simply teeming with birds over the last weeks, despite being surrounded by all this hubbub.

500 hectares

“We’re thrilled though. With birds like this turning up now, just imagine how it will be when the diggers are gone and we have 500 hectares of wetland, rather than just one field.”

Local photographer and birdwatcher Tim Taylor took the photos of the white-rumped sandpiper. He said: “It’s exciting to see all the work underway. Somerset is already such a great place for birding, boosting it further will be a dream.”

The construction team has been working hard over the last few weeks. They are taking advantage of the dry weather to landscape the former fields into channels and embankments. The landscaping needs to be in place before the current sea wall is breached next year, letting in the tide and creating coastal wetland.

Pectoral sandpiper& other rare birds

The white-rumped sandpiper was preceded by another North American wading bird, a pectoral sandpiper, probably similarly blown off course on its annual migration, and a wood sandpiper [see also here], a glossy ibis and a spoonbill. The rarities are an added interest to the little ringed plover, ruff and curlew sandpiper that regularly visit Steart.

The new wetlands will protect the area from flooding. The newly created marshes will flood approximately 100 times a year. A creek system will develop from the channels dug during the development, with new smaller creeks growing around its edges. Over time the site will turn into salt marsh.

1 thought on “Rare birds at half-finished English nature reserve

  1. Pingback: Wetland birds | Science on the Land

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