Here’s a good puzzle for you – Dave, Katherine and I have just returned from a trip to another RSPB reserve. See if you can work out which one and leave a comment at the end – we’ll see who guesses first! (Any of our volunteers who know where we went, please don’t give the game away!)
It’s always good to visit other reserves and share management best practise and ideas and that’s what we were up to. The reserve we visited are further along the ‘reedbed rejuvenation’ process than we are so it was very interesting to see their progress. The process involves draining particular reedbed compartments, cutting the reed and following this up with grazing for a period of time before re-flooding the compartment. This means that we have a section of reedbed that is ‘starting again’ so to speak. Having different reed structures and reed ages around the reserve is great for our wildlife. Some species prefer the earlier stages of reedbed development while others prefer older reedbeds with a deeper litter layer and perhaps more scrub. Some have requirements that span different structures and successional stages, so providing a mosaic of habitat types means we can try and cater for many different needs in the space we have.
This photo shows a section of reedbed at our mystery reserve that has just been cut. It needs a further ‘shaving’ off the top to get the cut as low as possible. We’ll be doing this soon at Lakenheath in one of our compartments too.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney – recently cut reed compartment
This second photo shows one of the compartments at the mystery reserve that was cut previously and re-flooded last winter. The result is a new, large area of open water which is great for attracting all sorts of birds.
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - re-flooded compartment
This particular compartment has been a hot spot for little egrets and great white egrets, one of which was present during our visit. At Lakenheath, we’re not quite at the re-flooding stage. We have one area of reed that was cut in the winter of 2011 which is currently being grazed. The water level is still low as we plan to cut another section of that same compartment this winter, graze it late next summer and then aim to bring the water levels up early winter 2014. Although we’ve got another year to go before our rejuvenation of that particular area is completed, it’s exciting to think about what we might attract!
One final snippet from the mystery reserve - Katherine and I liked the look of a monitoring chair that had been constructed at the edge of the reedbed. It looked like a good way to peek over the reeds and see where birds are coming and going from. Lakenheath volunteers – let us know what you think!
Photo credit: Ali Blaney - Katherine admiring the seat design at the mystery reserve
Speaking of Lakenheath volunteers, our work party last week went extremely well and we just about completed the willow removal work in New Fen North reedbed. We need to go to one last area with the boat to do some final cutting and to collect up a couple of piles of brash that didn’t get dragged out (I think energy levels had plummeted by that point and lunch was due!) We’ve got a work party tomorrow that will be focused on boardwalk preparation and our amazing volunteers are currently coming in on non work party days to speed along our boardwalk work. Thanks to volunteers Mark and Roy for their hard work today cutting and stacking decking boards!
I’ll end with a great sighting for the day – I was outside the visitor centre this morning, doing some woodwork while Mark and Roy were cutting. During a break in the noise, I suddenly heard a crane bugling in the distance. We searched the skies and saw SIX cranes approaching from the south west. We dashed in through the centre, the office emptied at the news and we all got great views of the noisy cranes flying overhead. A lovely sight!
So, any ideas on the mystery reserve?? Look closely at the photos.....