Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A gloomy day down the fen

The autumn weather got a good look in today. We had a catch up day in the office, not because of the weather, but it was nice to avoid the drizzle. I spent the morning planning the tree planting on the Lode and Longmeadow Community Wood at White Fen and the fencing plans for Hurdle Hall along with all the usual paperwork.

The water at Tubney Fen has also been turned on. We have an abstraction licence that runs from November to March. Using a nice big metal ‘Key’ to open the valves the water runs through the old irrigation system and out to the mere. Gravity does the work and we keep meter readings to ensure we keep to our quota. Here is a picture of the mere just as the water started to go in.

Tim got the old Fen Lighter pulled out of Wicken Lode, which was a moment of excitement as there was a fear that that it could have snapped. But as you can see she made it out in one piece to be put on display. The replacement is due to be on the way soon.

Jason Cooper has been slubbing some of the ditches on the fen and finished the job off today with the last of two sections of Wicken Lode. Slubbing is carried out for several reasons. In terms of conservation it is used to limit the successional change of species within our ditches. If we left them unmanaged they would eventually fill in and for the majority or cases slowly revert to scrub/woodland. By clearing or ‘slubbing’ the ditches on varying time delays or ‘rotations’ we can allow differing levels of succession to take place. As a result we create numerous ecological niches to be exploited by nature, thereby varying the species that come to live within them. We clear ditches on rotations from between 2years-25years-no clearance. Another important use of slubbing is to allow for the passage of water through a watercourse.

Here is a video of Jason slubbing Wicken Lode. He leaves the rhizomes of the reeds on one side of the path and spreads the slub out evenly on the other. With a spot of luck it will have vegetated over by the end of spring and we can use that side track on the left of the path again.

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