I am currently having a well earned sit down after a strenuous few days. Monday was spent clearing all the sheep off the entire marsh - 9 hours of walking, running and scrambling over ditches was needed to get them all in. We had to double back, wade over to islands, chase them over gutters but at least all 1,400 or so are now safe in the compound.
The tides are 10.1m, or 33', this Thursday and Friay with large amounts of water being seen all over the marsh. Lots of birds have been pushed up with adult Kitiwake and summer plumage turnstones unusual records for IMF. At least 2 Hobby, lots of teal and blacktailed godwits are also regulars on the pools. The lesser yellow leg has not been seen since Tuesday....
Tuesday was spent with the volunteers pulling up the sea of yellow that is ragwort from IMF2 where the cattle live. Obviously as a nature reserve the pulling of ragwort is a contentious issue with it being the only food plant for the striking red and black cinnibar moth. It is also an excellent source of nectar for many butterfly species, with wall browns feeding on it at Burton Point. However, it is highly poisenous to horses, sheep and cattle, being lethal if eaten in only small quantities. If there is plenty of other food about animals wont graze it whilst it is growing and fresh as it is unpalatable. As it dries and seeds it becomes a tasty treat and will be eaten! With each plant producing 150,000 wind-carried seeds many millions are produced in each field. It is a legal obligation for landowners to control ragwort, therefore although we leave it as long as possible for the moths and butterfiles to benefit, we must also remove it from areas grazed by our long-horn cattle and where it is in close proximity to our neighbours. As a perennial we try and pull it up by the roots - a back breaking task! We will be doing more next Tuesday if anyone is around to help!
We have had some cattle pens erected over by the grain barn near IMF2 by Stuart Sim ready for any cattle movements that may be required in the future.
A big thanks goes out to our walling volunteers who have helped Ben the waller complete the wall from Burton Point! Yay :-) I am still feeding the badgers peanuts and we are still battling the continuing growing vegetation along paths and tracks all round the reserve!
Back out to work now! See you soon