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Exploring uncharted territory on the Humber

Last modified: 22 August 2013

Flock of golden plovers

Whitton Sands is home to lots of wildlife such as golden plover.

Image: Graham Catley

The RSPB has been granted exclusive access to Whitton Sands, one of the most secluded parts of the Humber Estuary, to explore the wildlife that lives there.

Owned by Associated British Ports (ABP) and situated off the north bank of the inner Humber, the island has never been inhabited and has rarely ever been visited by humans. 

Whitton Sands is home to lots of wildlife including wintering geese and wading birds such as lapwings and golden plovers. Rare birds including marsh harriers and avocets are also known to breed there.   However, no one has ever done a full stock take of the island’s wildlife and much about Whitton Sands’ natural assets remains a mystery.

ABP is allowing the RSPB to land on the island so the charity can discover the full truth about its wildlife and also see if there is any conservation work it could carry out to attract even more plants and animals to Whitton Sands. If this is the case, the RSPB may be granted a lease so it can manage the island for the benefit of its wildlife.

Pete Short, the RSPB’s site manager for its Humber reserves, said: “These days we know so much about our wildlife and where it lives that it is rare to be able to explore uncharted territory. I am very excited about visiting the island as I don’t know what we will find. The Humber Estuary is one of the most important places in Europe for wildlife so we could be in for a real treat.” 

ABP Sustainable Development Manager Tom Jeynes said: “We are very excited to see what we can find. Conserving and enhancing the natural habitats of the Humber Estuary is an important part of our strategy to grow our business, particularly given the vital importance of the UK renewables sector and our role as part of the supply chain.”

The RSPB and Associated British Ports have a long-standing relationship of working together to make the Humber Estuary a better home for nature. This began in 1973 when the RSPB was granted the lease for its Blacktoft Sands reserve from ABP’s predecessor British Transport Docks Board.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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