Two years on from the completion of Jubilee Marsh on Wallasea Island, the RSPB is celebrating record numbers of birds using the Essex nature reserve.
The creation of Jubilee Marsh was made possible thanks to a unique partnership with Crossrail, Europe’s biggest construction project and the UK’s largest conservation charity, the RSPB.
Crossrail donated over 3 million tonnes of material excavated during construction of the new railway deep below the capital to re-create a previously lost wetland twice the size the City of London on Wallasea Island in Essex.
And now, only two years after the work was completed and the sea wall breached to create the new wetland, the wildlife making its home on the Island is reaching record numbers.
Rachel Fancy, Wallasea Island Warden, commented: “Wallasea Island is an incredibly special place, but the numbers that we are seeing on the reserve from last winter and into this season are set to break all records! The highest count of wintering birds ever recorded has now reached 12,000, meaning that the reserve is becoming a haven for wintering birds. The mud is holding increasing amounts of food for them to feed on.”
Birds using the newly created nature reserve include, lapwing, golden plover, teal, wigeon with a further mix of redshank, curlew, grey plover, ringed plover, Brent geese, shelduck. In addition to this, plants such as samphire, sea lavender and sea aster are expected to thrive.
Rachel continued: “We had 100 pairs avocets breeding on Wallasea last year and it looks to be similar numbers this year. For a bird which was once threatened with extinction across the country, this is a remarkable success story. We have also seen increased numbers of other birds that didn’t breed here before such as terns which have been diving into the new lagoons for fish.”
The range of species in the marshland on Wallasea has the potential to rival the diversity of rainforests due to the nutrients being deposited during daily tidal surges. Mud and plants also bring the added environmental benefit of absorbing pesticides, other pollutants and carbon dioxide.
Source: RSPB and Crossrail
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