Friday, 18 April 2014

Getting ready for Easter, the Sedge Fen is still wet and we check ourowl boxes

Hello, John here. It has been a long time since I posted, Maddie has been doing a fine job. 

With it being the Easter and the bank holiday weekend we have been working to make sure that as much of the fen is accessible as possible and that everything is looking presentable. We have been working hard to get the paths mowed, the picnic areas cut and stimmed, bird hides in best of order and plant and butterfly boards out. We have also been working very had as we are expecting more calves and foals, fixing miles of fences, building duck boards and many other bits and bobs.
View from East Mere hide last week.  

Nature Trail
We are still waiting to open the Nature Trail in its entirety. Currently it is not a full loop, as part of it is too wet. It is open to all the hides though, and you can see a great deal of the Sedge Fen. We are just waiting for Mitchell's drove to get dry enough to take people walking without being damaged. Now it is important to remember that a fen should be wet! Especially in the winter, drying out as the summer warms up and the water table steadily dropping before rising again in late autumn. This process is key to the fens delicate ecosystem. It can however make our job of managing it tricky, as we can't always get tools and machinery, however light and in certain ceases even people on foot to were we need to work. 

Mitchell's drove is for the most part in fine nick, and dry enough to use, but there are a few wet areas near its start and finish. Wicken's Sedge Fen is covered in old peat diggings that run roughly at right angles to Wicken Lode across the fen and occasionally across Mitchell's Drove. These old diggings create low points which hold water for longer and are doing so at present. We have been busy building new lightweight portable duck boards to bridge the gaps. The old ones have been causing us problems as they have been blocking the light getting to the plants and creating muddy areas. As shown on a different area in the picture below. These muddy areas can take several years to recover. We have been working very hard to make a new batch of small light duck boards that can be put out over wet areas for short periods and then removed to allow the plants to continue to grow.  At present we have been using sections of old boardwalk which are very heavy and hard to move. Many thanks to Ridgeons for helping us with the timber.

Damage from old boardwalk

New sections in place. 

Checking Our Owl Boxes
Me and Maddie went out with Neil, one of the most experienced bird ringers at Wicken to check the owl boxes around the reserve. Some great finds, and brilliant to see the boxes in use, if not all by owls. I'm really pleased, especially as some had been out for a short time.

Old Bee's Nest 
We found this amazing old bees nest yesterday, it is on the way to the Butterfly Trail if you fancy a look.

Other Bits and Bobs
Ruby took this fantastic pic of a young dear, here is a list of the migrant birds we have been spotting and are expecting soon and the swans are nesting near the Visitor Centre Again. It isn't Wicken related but I really like the long horn cattle grazing on Coldham's Common next to Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium, so a couple of pics of them too.

Have a great Easter and as usual you can keep I touch on twitter: @wickenfennt and @vision_warden

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