February 2020 – Reserve

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5 Mar 2020

Our Reserve Manager, Richard, reflects on February 

Topsy turvy weather, especially some strong winds, has brought with it its fair share of challenges for our teams this month in the form of uprooted trees and lost or broken branches.

The upside is that this creates more unusual wildlife niches such as up-turned root bases and newly formed craters filled with water. If possible, we leave such features as they offer unique areas which are often rare in the natural world. Deadwood provides food for wood boring beetles and other invertebrates as well as our commonest decomposers, the fungi.

Fluctuating water levels meant that the island briefly reappeared on the scrape attracting flocks of lapwing, only for it to disappear days later. That said, spring marches on with the arrival of oystercatchers and shelduck. In the woods, woodpeckers are drumming whilst alder, hazel, primrose and elm are flowering. On one of the rare sunny days we witnessed the first small tortoiseshell butterfly and bumblebees, proving that nature perseveres regardless!

Our winter work continues as we clear willow from the reed beds and water margins. We are also cutting fen areas to help encourage new growth.

Talking of growth, grass is in short supply (the new grass will be a welcome relief once the weather warms) but we are fortunate to be able to fall back on our reserves of hay, cut in the summer, to help feed our cattle in this lean period.