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Artificial islands for rare birds

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Lower Saxony and Bremen
Artificial islands for rare birds

Rare bird species will soon be able to romp on artificial islands in two lakes in the Harburg district. At the beginning of spring, and thus of the breeding season, rare birds are allowed to settle there unmolested.

Winsen (dpa / lni) – The district of Harburg is creating artificial islands for the resident animals at Lake Steller and Lake Junkernfeld. In the nature reserve, the islands are completed in time for the start of the breeding season for rare bird species. The Elbe Habitat Foundation developed the measure together with the lower nature conservation authority of the district of Harburg. Common terns, oystercatchers and ringed plovers and ringed plovers are said to find new breeding grounds. The Lower Seeveniederung is a special attraction for nature and bird lovers.

In the nature reserves “Untere Seeveniederung” and “Over Plack” two bird islands each were built in the lakes. At Steller Lake, the islands can be seen well from the bird-watching post. At the Junkernfeldsee they anchor a little further from the observation tower at the level of the new resting places for waterfowl.

Just a few decades ago, birds found enough breeding places in the water: almost all rivers had extensive gravel and sand banks and numerous small islands. They were important habitats for numerous bird species that depend on safe nesting sites as ground breeders. With the dikes, the construction of dams and the dredging, the innumerable sandbanks and islands disappeared.

Artificial installations already exist in the Schaalsee and Niedersächsische Elbtalaue biosphere reserves, in the Geltinger Birk nature reserve or in the Lebrade fishponds. “Experience has shown that the use of at least two neighboring islands is more advantageous than a single island,” explained Henrik Hufgard of the Elbe Habitat Foundation.

The four new islands each have a good nine square meters. They consist of seaworthy and food-grade plastic floats. A durable plastic frame is built over the 18 floats per island, which is stabilized by aluminum struts. This frame is filled with a layer of gravel about three inches thick, on which the birds can lay their broods and lay their eggs. Some clay ridges on the gravel surface offer chicks additional hiding places. Each floating island is secured with two anchors, galvanized chains, and plastic ropes.

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