David Rumble, head of conservation strategy at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, writes about our precious wetlands
In fact we at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust manage a number of wetland nature reserves across the region where you can see a wide range of fantastic birds and other wildlife.
A stone’s throw away from Portsmouth are the Farlington Marshes, one of the trust’s oldest reserves.
This site is a coastal grazing marsh and lagoon which has several pools, both freshwater and brackish, and a broad stream which provide feeding and roosting sites for waders and wildfowl.
It’s internationally important for the bird population that it supports and there is a wide variety of wading birds and wildfowl around during the autumn migration, including black-tailed godwits, redshanks, grey plover and greenshanks.
Breeding birds include the bearded tit, sedge and reed warblers.
And we can’t forget the incredible birds of prey that visit the marshes – peregrines all year, osprey pass through in the spring and autumn, hobbies in the summer and marsh harriers and short-eared owls in the winter.
All these birds thrive here because of the incredibly rich habitat that wetlands offer, and the range of flora and fauna that make up their ecosystems.
As well as supporting an immense variety of wildlife, wetlands also have an economic value – not only to the thousands of people who live on their edge, but also to communities living miles away.
Wetlands up and down the land are important sources of food, fresh water and building materials, and also provide invaluable services such as water purification, flood defence and erosion control. This precious resource has to be protected and cared for. However, over the years wetlands habitats have been in serious decline – some waters have been polluted and wetland wildlife has been lost.
n Wetland Wildlife Weekend will take place on November 21 and 22 and is a fantastic opportunity to explore and celebrate some of the wetland areas near you – whether coastal or freshwater.
Why not find out about a reserve near to you, download spotter sheets, or support our work to conserve these amazing habitats?
Visit hiwwt.org.uk to find out more.