Friday, 21 November 2014

Winter Water Fun

The beginning of winter is the signal for a few jobs to be done around the fen.

Firstly we start abstracting water onto the fen in November. We have a few abstraction points dotted around, the most obvious being the wind pump on the Sedge Fen side of Wicken Lode. I turned the water onto Burwell Fen last week, filling up the scrapes next to Reach Lode. These areas create excellent habitat for wildfowl and waders, we’re already seeing a lot of our winter migrants, like widgeon, coming in. The abstraction mimics the winter flooding that would occur naturally if the water ways weren’t so closely controlled. Maintaining these water levels is important to the plant communities and, along with the sedge cutting, is one of the most important management tools we use to preserve fen conditions.

Water turned on onto Burwell Fen
Ruby and I did another winter job this week and removed the temporary pontoon from Wicken Lode. The pontoon is used over the summer for the boat trips during the day. As it is up by the junction with Monk’s Lode it reduces the amount of traffic going down the Wicken Lode spur, which has a delicate balance of rare aquatic plants and invertebrates. Even though it is a cold job having to submerge your arms in the water to unscrew the shackles, it was fun riding on the pontoon, keeping it away from the banks, as Ruby towed it down the lode. We then pulled it out of the lode with the tractor, and have hidden it in the scrub ready to be pulled back out in the spring.

The pontoon emerging from the Lode.
There are some beautiful sunsets occurring over the fen at the moment, and some impressive starling murmurations. I’ve already seen lots photographers out, and even I’ve managed to get some good pictures on my phone.

Baker's Fen looking pretty in the sunset
We had the grand opening of our newly refurbished docky hut on Tuesday. It is looking superb, with fresh green walls, a new dishwasher and fridge, and a fancy hot water dispenser. Well done to Ruby and her troops who have done a fantastic job.

The fancy new Docky Hut

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