Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Long Time No Blog – Lots Going On

It has been a while since my last update, so what's been going on? 

We have been working to repair some old culverts to help move some water away, rather than the hold it back as we often do. Normally we work to contain water where we can, without affecting our neighbours and people upstream from us in the drainage system. This usually takes the form of sluice boxes or abstracting water onto our sites. Where we have a responsibility to move water away we do,  one ditch’s outfall into a main drain became blocked and could not be fixed, as a result we replaced it with a new pipe and. It was most cold, but we got the job done as shown in the pictures below.

Work continues on Burwell Fen, repairing fences, installing new gates and protecting the bridge ramp. With our cattle moving over Burwell Lode shortly we have been working to make sure that our fences are in good order and we have some new gates in place to help us manage our stock. Later in the year more cattle will arrive along with our Konic Ponies. As the numbers of animals increases we will steadily increase the area of the fen available to them. To do this we still have several kilometres of fence to construct, something we are working on at the moment. 

Three of our horses have been brought up to near the visitor centre to get them ready to move to the RSPB at Old Hall Marshes. If you park in our overflow car park you might notice Jack, Ernie and Alfie waiting in the field next door. The vet sedated them so we could walk them into our horse box before bringing them around the roads and unloading them and gelding them prior to the second move away from Wicken later in the month.

The whole of Hurdle Hall is being readied for grazing. New fences, gates and culvert linking it to a field across a drain. Hurdle Hall is a long strip of land to the west of Reach, half of it has been grazed by cattle over the last few years and half cut for hay. This year the whole area is being put down to grazing so new gates and access routes have been constructed around the sites west end. These will allow people to either walk, cycle or horse ride across through the grazed area or avoid the cattle by going around the end field.

Another noticeable change to Hurdle Hall is the work we have done to pollard the sycamore next to the track. The tree had been significantly damaged by fire several years ago leaving a large amount of dead branches hanging over the track. We considered felling the tree from the base, but this was not as easy as it looked because the tree was really looking to fall into the trees next to it, so very kindly Anglesey Abbey lent us two of their gardeners who are qualified to climb up and chop the branches off at height. This left us with the trunk standing which will provide some great standing deadwood habitat.

It is always handy to have a place to catch the cattle that graze our sites, so working with our tenant we are building a corral. It certainly helps to have a digger on site to bore the holes out but we still have a lot of work to pack the poles in before putting some big planks along to keep the cows in.

Things coming up, mowing, path repairs and getting the gates back out.

Things are now growing, which is great, but this does mean in some areas we need to get out and mow the paths, picnic areas and access points. Lots of hard work ahead over the summer keeping the place looking smart.

As usual you can follow me on twitter if you like @vision_warden

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