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Record number of birds visiting new haven on Wallasea Island


Record number of birds visiting new haven on Wallasea Island

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.

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Notes to Editors

The wetland restoration began on Wallasea in 2006 when sea walls were breached on the northern edge of the island. By 2025, the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project plans to have created 148 hectares of mudflats, 192 hectares of saltmarsh, and 76 acres of shallow saline lagoons. About eight miles of coastal walks and cycle routes will also be created as part of the project.

A total of 7 million tonnes of material was excavated by Crossrail during the construction of the Elizabeth line. 98% of this excavated material was beneficially re-used.

In a landmark partnership with the RSPB almost half the material (over 3 million tonnes) excavated from deep below the capital was used to create the Jubilee Marsh, the first area to be completed on the flagship wetland nature reserve twice the size the City of London at Wallasea Island in Essex.

Over 80% of Crossrail excavated material was transported by rail and water (on a tonne per kilometre basis) removing at least 150,000 lorries from the streets of London.

About the RSPB

The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity.
In England and Wales, no: 207076.
In Scotland, no: SC037654.

About Crossrail

The route will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. The Transport for London (TfL) run railway will be named the Elizabeth line when services through central London open in December 2018. The Crossrail project is being delivered by Crossrail Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, and is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and TfL.