For anyone who has visited RSPB Havergate Island will know what a special place it is. For me I have been fortunate to visit the island on quite a few occasions over the last year either as a RSPB photographic tutor or on my own organised days. Below is my personal look at my visits over the last year.
The Good :
I personally always enjoy boarding the ‘October Storm’ and heading off towards the island. Knowing that you are the only group on the island and you can wander around at your leisure is a joy. For most wildlife photographers the reason Havergate is such a lure are the Brown hares.
These hares are more approachable than there mainland cousins and with some fieldcraft a few of them can be very accommodating……….
……….or just chill out right in front of the main hide.
In 2013 I was one of the RSPB’s photographic tutors for their photography days and was the tutor for the Big Wild Sleepout event in August.
To be able to stay on the island was fantastic and during the Sleepout event we hosted four families and they had many events to keep them busy. It was really rewarding to show all ages the hares close up.
During the night I really wanted to try some photography be it Orford church reflected in the water………
…….or a hare by touch light (cheers Harry for the assist)
My accommodation for the evening was one of the hides and this was my view in the morning, not bad!
My last trip of 2013 was in October and at that stage there was estimated to be 24 hares on the island. All was about to change.
The Bad :
On the evening of the 5th December 2013 the whole of the east coast was affected by the storm surge and Havergate was mostly submerged by this.
The Ugly :
From the images on this link posted by Kieren, Havergate’s warden you can see the damage. http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/havergateisland/b/havergateisland-blog/archive/2013/12/11/after-the-storm.aspx. Last week I was part of a small group that went over to the island to assist with the clear up and saw the extent of the damage.
As well as the visitor centre/hide, Gullery hide is also destroyed. A lot of the gorse appears to be dying off due to the salt water. But the clear up is continuing with the many lagoon/sea walls being repaired.
Unfortunately I have had to cancel my workshops to the island in March as have the RSPB their hare events. When Kieren showed me the tide line of where the sea rose to it’s amazing to believe any hares survived but.
I manage to get a few hours of photography in during my couple of days on the island and although less approachable than before I did finally find a couple of hares I was able to get close to.
There appears to be around 10 hares left on the island but hopefully this will increase during the year.
I would like to thank all the RSPB staff associated with the island and the many people I have met from my trips to the island. Although the island will never be the same again lets hope everything settles down and future is good for Havergate.