Work is underway to restore wetland habitats for breeding waders and terns at Arundel Wetland Centre. The work will result in close up views of wild species throughout the seasons on the large lagoon between the Sand Martin hide and the Ramsar hide to engage and inspire WWT visitors. Originally scheduled to be completed in Dec 2021 the works on the area have over run, affected by very wet winter weather and lots and lots of mud!
Most of the wildfowl that winter on this lagoon have moved over to waters at the Scrape hide, especially the little and cattle egrets who are roosting in a tree at the back of the Scrape. Grey herons and a great egret had been taking fish and finding eels in the shallow water on the project area between Ramsar and Sand Martin hides. Small birds have been roosting in the Sand martin hide holes while coots, rails and moor hens all spotted there so although the lagoon is water-less it is still worth a look for wildlife.
Starting in early November contractors PHB Construction installed a temporary, water-filled dam to the right of the Sand Martin hide to block water from entering large lagoon. They removed built up silt from around the small islands directly in front of the Sand Martin hide.
The two islands have been renovated and topped with fresh gravel. A third island is being created here too and connected to the others and the shore by shallow causeway so staff can easily access the islands on foot. These works will increase nesting spots for oyster catchers and entice common terns and little ringed plovers.
Reserve Manager Suzi Lanaway is overseeing the work and said “We last had common terns breeding here in 2014 on rafts and breeding ringed plover a decade ago. It will be fantastic to have these birds return to nest, with the bonus of more great wildlife viewing for our visitors.”
The two large islands furthest away from the Sand Martin hide will be lowered to be just below water level, and planted with reeds next year. This will result in fewer nesting areas for black-headed gulls bringing more balance to summer wildlife in this area. The gulls currently have ample areas on site for nesting.
Arundel Centre Manager Time McGregor said “We offer close encounters with wildlife at all our hides at Arundel Wetland Centre with nesting sand martins, kingfishers and oystercatchers raising young. Maintain and improving wetlands is crucial for wildlife and will provide more thrilling encounters for our visitors.”
The work is now scheduled to be completed by the the end of January 2022. A grant for Natural England and donations from our visitors are funding this project.