Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Ambassadors are back.

The Wicken Fen Ambassadors were on top form last Thursday when they came to Wicken to thin out some scrub in the Bog Oak field. They did a fantastic job and even kept smiling during the rain. The Bog Oak field is grazed for a short time in early summer so we were making the patch of trees more accessible to the cows. This will give the girls a bit more space to find some shade and to find some good scratching points. It also has the added bonus of opening the canopy up and letting more light in to the lower levels. We're hoping this will encourage more flora growth around the base of the trees, increasing the diversity in the field.
Ambassadors hard at work

An action shot of one of the trees putting up a fight

All still smiling at the end of the day, always a good result

In other news, Lois and I finished the livestock corral on Tubney Fen. We added rails to the culvert at the entrance, to make it more secure when pushing cows through. The Project has been a real group effort with UK Power Networks starting the whole thing off, Jason and John getting some of the poles installed over the new year, the Ambassadors helping us get the last rails on and then Lois and I adding all the finishing touches! Thank you to all involved and here's hoping the cows enjoy it.

Competed Corral
Stu and I have been trying our hand at some chainsaw crafting! We bought some large oak logs to turn into new benches to replace the picnic benches next to the bridge. We borrowed Anglessey Abbey's large chainsaw, which has a 24" bar which Stu used to carve out a surprisingly comfortable sofa style bench. I had our smallest saw, with a modest 13" bar and started work on the second bench. Stu made a fine job of his sofa, which now just needs rearranging so people can relax and take in some lovely fen views. My bench needs a little more work, so I'll be heading back out there soon.

The large logs ready and waiting to be transformed
The first chunk out
Stu racing through his bench

The final result
My bench is getting there!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Introducing the Livestock to the Whole of Burwell Fen

The end of January saw a new start for the livestock on Burwell Fen. On a blowy Friday lunch time the Ranger team opened the gates to the south side of Burwell Fen to allow the ponies and cattle full access. We have been building to this for a few years, building handling units, constructing fencing and moving the herds over from Adventurer's Fen, so it was very rewarding for us to finally see the animals being able to roam over the entire of Burwell Fen. We called the cattle over to the gate to show them where the new paths through were and to encourage them to explore the new area. They are all keen for a bucket of food so we managed to get most of the herd interested enough to come through the new gateway. We were particularly pleased with Apple, one of the youngest cows, who was very excited to see the new grazing, and completely ignored the food piles in favour of a big juicy patch of rush that she went head first into!

They heard the call and came plodding.

Hannah leading the keenest through first

As the horses move around more than the cows, we felt they would find their way through on their own. They seemed a bit tentative for the first few days, with only the more adventurous younger ponies taking the plunge. Once they were all through, however, they haven't looked back. It has certainly made the checks more interesting, finding new routes through the fen to where the animals have decided to graze that day.

First taste of new grass

Apple's mad dash to fresh rush

The animals seem to be enjoying their new range, having not ventured back into the north side since we let them through. It has also been interesting to watch some of the behaviours that access the new widespread area has brought out in the livestock. The bulls are re-asserting their hierarchy, deciding which patch of land they want as their patch, and there has been some posturing and shouting at each other to decide whose in charge. Some of the horses are spending time away from the main herd, the young "bachelor" herd, who are more inquisitive. The main herd, with the young foals, seem to be moving too slow for them, so they go out on their own to investigate the furthest reaches before coming back to the herd.

Ewan and one of the girls venturing forth

The rest of the herd exploring more slowly