The Medina Estuary is a haven for some of Europe’s rarest and most vulnerable migratory birds and the winter months are a great time to see them.
The estuary’s mudflats, saltmarsh and surrounding land form part of a network of important and protected wetland sites around the Solent. The visiting birds that feed here throughout the winter are building up the vital energy supplies needed to power their onward migration at the end of the season. Each time they are startled into flight they lose some of these essential reserves and their chances of surviving diminish. Increased development also creates pressure on remaining habitats, leaving fewer safe places for the birds to feed and retreat to at high tide.
Our wader roost project aims to safeguard and enhance an area of waterside habitat for the estuary’s birds to use for roosting and loafing at high tide. The site will become established over seven years and the work is being carried out in partnership with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The first few years of the project will see some substantial changes to the area and after that only low maintenance stewardship will be needed to ensure the site becomes well-established.
The practical work began in 2014 and extensive progress has already been made. Initially, the project involved securing the site and removing scrub and trees. This provides an open sight line to the estuary from the field so that the birds have a clear route of escape if they feel threatened. Work will soon be underway to control the new growth of scrub and remove the tree stumps. In the next couple of years the site will be further enhanced by adding small scrapes for temporary ponds in the field and carrying out work at the water’s edge to encourage the growth of saltmarsh.
As the site develops, we will update you on our progress and highlight ways in which you can help to protect our estuary’s wildlife. By making sure the estuary remains a haven for wading birds and waterfowl, we can continue to welcome our special winter visitors for many years to come.
If you are out and about over the winter months, see how many of our visitors you can spot!
By Sue Hawley, Estuaries Officer, Isle of Wight Estuaries Project
The Isle of Wight Estuaries Project is a partnership between Cowes Harbour Commission, the Environment Agency, Isle of Wight Council, Natural England and Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners.
Read more on wildlife and conservation in Cowes Harbour and the Medina Estuary.