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Work nears completion at Wallasea Island

PUBLISHED: 09:28 24 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:28 24 February 2015

Boat wreckage on Wallasea Island by Andy Hay rspbimages

Boat wreckage on Wallasea Island by Andy Hay rspbimages

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This summer will see the culmination of many years of planning and hard work with the launch of Allfleets Marsh on Wallasea Island. Liela Balin reveals what the RSPB has been up to there

At Wallasea Island, we are coming up to an exciting period in the reserve’s creation. As the weather starts to improve this spring, works will begin on the installation of sluice structures on our future saline lagoon not far from the current car park.

These structures will allow us to fill the lagoon with sea water from the River Crouch. Currently the sluice here drains the island but we will be reversing it to create a lagoon. The islands within the lagoon should provide plenty of breeding and roosting spaces for wetlands birds and the muddy edges will be superb feeding places for them to dig into the mud.

Also this spring, Crossrail will be coming to the end of the import of soils from operations in London. The soils have been placed to form islands, creeks, deeper lagoons and shallow embankments to make a variety of habitats such as mud flats, saltmarsh and grass seawalls. Crossrail will this summer be working towards the breaching of the seawalls, the final phase of their work on Wallasea Island. Three holes will be created in the seawall to allow the sea in and inundate this area. The eastern edge of Wallasea Island will become a wonderful wetland which will be called Jubilee Marsh.

Crossrail will have been importing soil for nearly three years and been working on the island for more than four years by the time work has finished. During this period, teams will have imported £3m tonnes of soil, all from tunnelling and digging station shafts under London. The soil has been brought by ship along the Thames and around to the River Crouch where an unloading facility brings the soil onto Wallasea Island.

Once all of this work is complete the RSPB will be able to show visitors the wonderful habitats that have been created and the wildlife that is starting to call this nature reserve their home. We will make temporary paths to get people close to the lagoon and see for themselves which plants and animals are being attracted to the site.

To see Jubilee Marsh, visitors will be able to walk along the public footpath which already exists. As you do, you will have Allfleets Marsh (created in 2006 by Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) on your left and Jubilee Marsh on your right. As Allfleets Marsh demonstrates, it takes no time at all for the sea to bring in the plant matter and invertebrate life that create the mudflats and saltmarsh habitats. Once this begins to get established, the birds start to use the site for feeding.

It is an exciting time to be working at Wallasea Island, so do come along one day this summer to see this amazing nature reserve as it slowly comes to fruition.

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