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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

High Tide

Some of you may know that a few years back I started surveying High Tide Roosts within the Inner Thames, basically from Tilbury up to East India Dock Basin, the idea being to try and get them recognised as a habitat and there after safeguarded.
With the assistance of a lot of my mates and friends, without their help this project wouldn’t have got off the ground, land based surveys were undertaken twice in the winter period. The results that were forthcoming showed how important the Inner Thames is to wintering waders and wildfowl.

After this, the London Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency and with help from the Port of London Authority it progressed, roosts were logged and mapped all along the Thames. All are now listed with GIGL and will be flagged up if any come under the threat of development or demolition.
Of course this will not safeguard them entirely, say if it is a working Jetty/Structure, but the idea is that there will always be another roost to turn to, or at the least some mitigation if threatened.

Grey Plover roosting at Beckton

Barking Bay Redshank roost

The last thing you need for wintering waders in cold weather is for them to be expending valuable energy flying round looking for roost sites; sometimes it can mean the difference literally between life and death for older or weak birds.
Many of the Structures/Jetties are derelict, there are 15 recognised roosts from Tilbury to E.I.D.B, many of the roosts are also weather dependant if a strong cold wind is blowing. An example is Crossness and Fords, Dagenham, if a cold wind is coming from the North the majority will go to Fords on the Essex side, vice versa for a south wind, both sites offer cover out of the wind.

The Fords roost

Another idea is trying to make use of the small Dolphin Jetties, if you are not aware of these, they are the small Jetties either side of a main jetty which the ships use to moor up to, they are not accessed and only the rope is pulled up. Consequently they make an ideal nesting platform for Common Terns, especially the one at Barking Bay, this colony numbers around 28 pairs. With Common Terns not breeding in the Capital as well as they used to, Dolphins make an ideal substitute for a raft, they are also pretty small, consequently they can be defended easier. Derelict ones can, with a little work be transformed into the perfect platform – haunch board on the perimeter, shingled out, bits of large rope and small logs added here and there for cover, they are ideal. Added to this Oystercatchers have started to go in with the Terns at Barking Bay and thus gain protection by the Terns, it works as well, a pair have been successful for the last 3 years.

Dolphin Jetty at Barking


Oystercatcher breeding success is not good in the Inner Thames and many eggs/young are predated by Crows and the larger Gulls unfortunately, more Tern colonies more success.

Hopefully the upcoming meeting in October with the Thames Estuary Partnership will be a step in the right direction.

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