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An overview of Lower Raypits

PUBLISHED: 12:31 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:31 11 July 2014

Essex Wildlife Trust's Lower Raypits nature reserve

Essex Wildlife Trust's Lower Raypits nature reserve

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Charlie Oliver from the Essex Wildlife Trust gives a monthly update on the wildlife near you

Avocet and chicks by Roger WardleAvocet and chicks by Roger Wardle

Essex Wildlife Trust has officially opened a major wetland project at Lower Raypits Nature Reserve. The pioneering wetland restoration and rainfall retention project beside the Crouch Estuary benefited many breeding birds of conservation concern this spring, including lapwing (a species that is synonymous with the English countryside and of highest conservation concern after an alarming population decline), avocet, oystercatcher and redshank. John Hall, CEO of Essex Wildlife Trust, officially opened the new habitat with VIPs and funders in attendance to celebrate the completion of the project.

Lower Raypits Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest on the south bank of the Crouch, near the village of Canewdon. The habitat restoration is a ground-breaking project, which retains winter rainfall to ensure that an area that is semi-arid (Burnham on Crouch has an average annual rainfall lower than Jerusalem’s) has sufficient water to allow important wetland birds to breed. The innovative technology uses compressed air-driven pumps, which are commonly used in Australia and other arid regions for agricultural irrigation where sites are remote and away from sources of electricity.

As well as the wading birds, other wildlife thriving on the site includes brown hare, water vole, corn bunting and yellow wagtail. In a few months’ time, the wetland will be home to brent geese and wigeon, arriving to spend the winter.

‘The site is looking fantastic,’ said Mark Iley, biodiversity co-ordinator at Essex Wildlife Trust. ‘It was used by thousands of wildfowl in winter and has now successfully provided breeding habitat for threatened bird species. The site will continue to improve as it matures, safeguarding wildlife and having a positive effect on the wider landscape and the environment, making an important contribution to this wonderful estuary and beyond.’

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