Humber island backed as bird paradise

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An uninhabited island on the Humber, rarely visited by humans, has huge potential to boost bird populations, says the RSPB.

Whitton Sands formed out of a sandbank in the upper reaches of the Humber just a few decades ago and already hosts wildlife including wintering geese, lapwings, golden plovers and rare birds like marsh harriers and avocets.

The RSPB is looking to take on the management of the island and believes bird populations can be trebled or even quadrupled.

Pete Short, the RSPB’s site manager for Humber reserves, became the first official visitor in years when he recently landed by boat.

He said: “The island is pristine, completely natural, nothing has ever been done to it. It has never been farmed. Twenty to 30 years ago it was a sandbank which just got vegetated over.”

The RSPB is hoping to scrape out lagoons and ponds in an attempt to replicate the success of Read’s Island six miles away, where avocets have formed a stronghold. “The colony at Reads Island is so key we don’t really want to rely on just one place. We want Whitton and Read’s Island to work together,” said Mr Short.

The island – once a bed of silt only exposed at low water and on which ships were sometimes wrecked – is owned by the Crown Estate, but ABP has a 999-year lease on it. The RSPB wants to work with them and other organisations on the plans.