Holderness welcomes wonderful wetland waders and wildfowl

Hundreds of water birds have been reported feeding and loafing in Long Bank Marsh, part of Kilnsea Wetlands Nature Reserve near Spurn, following managed flooding of the area by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The lease and management of Long Bank Marsh was taken on by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 2012 from the landowners Associated British Ports.

Conservation works supported by funding from WREN and the Environment Agency have been carried out by the Trust in association with the Easington Biodiversity Steering Group with help and monitoring from Spurn Bird Observatory to successfully develop the site into a wildlife-rich habitat.

Standing water on farm grassland across the Holderness area was once a familiar sight during winter months. Changes in farming practice and land drainage or ploughing out has resulted in much of this type of habitat being lost, contributing to the decline of wintering wetland birds.

The simple introduction of a large, relocatable pump on the grassland by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust enables the charity to take advantage of high water levels in adjacent ditches after sustained periods of rain, allowing excess water to be drawn and stowed on the grass field.

Leading the habitat improvement at Long Bank Marsh on behalf of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is Nature Reserve Officer Andy Gibson. “This is the second winter re-wetting has been undertaken in this way and with increasing success,” he said. “Once flooded the land creates roosting and feeding conditions for wildfowl and waders, leading to magnificent flocks of UK winter visitors such as brent geese, wigeon, curlew and the elegant black-tailed godwit. It’s wonderful to see these at such close range.”

The fantastic birding spectacle was witnessed recently by Rob Adams, Chair of Spurn Bird Observatory. Rob said: “There were in excess of 1000 birds feeding on the marsh and it is a sight that I have never before witnessed in this location. It’s a phenomenal achievement and just goes to show what can be achieved in a short space of time.”

In a further project between Spurn Bird Observatory and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, work is currently underway at Kilnsea Wetlands Nature Reserve to construct a sand martin nesting bank in time for the return of these popular common summer visitors in March.

A member of the swallow family, sand martins generally nest in eroding coastal cliffs but man-made sites are proven to offer an attractive alternative, enabling these sociable birds to nest together.
The Spurn sand martin project has received over £1000 in funding thanks to bird watcher Graham Speight who donated monies raised through the annual Michael Clegg Memorial Bird Race and brought together a team of craftsmen to construct the unit at the Observatory prior to its installation.

Plan a visit to Kilnsea Wetlands Nature Reserve.