Essex island sees record bird counts after cable removal


National Trust rangers on Northey Island, Essex, have seen growing numbers of several bird species at the site, following work to remove overhead cables.

Northey Island boasts the largest tract of saltmarsh on the Blackwater Estuary. At the beginning of 2023, a total of 3,875 Dunlin was recorded by National Trust staff, beating the previous site record of 3,510 in 2015.

Dunlin numbers reached an all-time high at Northey Island this year (Ian Dickey).

At the same time, 1,710 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were counted, the highest number on the island for seven years. Growing numbers of Eurasian Curlew, Avocet and Northern Lapwing have also been logged following the work to remove the overhead electricity cables.

David Mason of the National Trust said: "The increase in numbers is likely due to the re-routing of overhead power lines underground and the removal of poles which has opened up a large section of the island and created improved landing areas for the birds for feeding and resting during their annual migrations."

Moving the cables underground was part of preparation for a major project on the island, the goal of which is to improve the extensive saltmarsh habitat for birds and other wildlife.