Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bits and Bobs in the run up to Easter.

We've been busy doing lots of things to get the Fen looking tip top ready for the Easter Holidays.

John and Luke have been watching the Nature Trail carefully while the weather can't decide what it wants to do. When it's wet the compaction cause by people walking over the path can damage the peat along these areas. There is also damaged caused to the delicate plant communities along the edges of the paths when people skirt around the edge of the puddles, making the track wider and wider. These areas are where we get many of our spectacular flowers in the spring and summer, including early marsh and spotted orchids, marsh pea, devil's bit scabious, purple and yellow loosestrife as well as a variety of sedges. Luke and John, therefore, are watching to see if how much the paths are drying during the warm sunny periods we're getting. Hopefully, weather permitting, we'll be able to open the trail for the start of the Easter holidays, and we'll have to monitor it closely if we get any wet weather.

Lois had the help of a couple of our Wicken Fen Ambassadors on Monday when they came in to paint the new sign boards that a couple of other volunteers have made. These are our temporary, portable sign boards that go up all over the sedge fen during the spring, summer and autumn, with lots of information about butterflies, plants, dragonflies and berries.

The grazing team are waiting with baited breath for the first babies of the year. We've normally had a couple of foals by now and the mares tend to run on a yearly cycle, with an 11 month gestation meaning they tend to conceive about a month after after they have given birth. Yara had Swift in February last year and then Nanja and Kaluna had Merlin and Monty in April. There's also a handful of young mares, like Chelsea and Lottie who could foal at any time. We're also keeping a close eye on the cattle, particularly Mulda 2, Morag, Isle and Hedwig, but none of them are showing any signs yet. The cattle are slightly easier to predict when they are close to calving as they sometimes show a series of signs; looking low and heavy in the belly, their udders swelling and their behinds looking swollen and red.

The whole team at Wicken got very excited about the eclipse last Friday. We had pinhole cameras, glass lenses and binoculars ready to project the image of the moon moving across the Sunday, and then the clouds came! It did get darker and colder which was slightly spooky, but unfortunately that's all we got to experience.