The habitat at Beckingham Marshes keeps on improving all the time, but this winter has been one of the best yet and is certainly the wettest we have ever seen it! Just last week, a visit to site revealed water levels like we have never seen them before, with all scrapes full and loads of water ‘flashing’ out onto the surrounding wet grassland.
This is excellent for more than one reason. Firstly, it helps to keep the grass sward down to a suitable height for breeding lapwing, when they return in a few weeks time. It also attractes large numbers of grazing birds, such as wigeon. The wigeon nibble away at the grass, also helping to keep it nice and low for the lapwing. Lapwing like a short grass sward on which to lay their nests – in fact, they like no more than a 5cm height of grass at the beginning of the breeding season. This is our target for much of the wet grassland areas and they are definitely looking great at the moment!
High water levels also push soil invertebrates up to the surface. This is important for birds (like lapwing) that are feeding on the invertebrates.
So much water!
And speaking of breeding birds, we spent last week focussing on some small repairs and tweeks to our amazing anti-predator fences. These fences protect our breeding waders from terrestrial predators and have worked brilliantly since their installation in February 2015, with lapwing productivity soaring and our first ever breeding redshank last year! The fences are now fully operational and ready for nests and chicks soon!
One final piece of winter work completed recently is the laying of an old hedge along Old Trent Road. This hedge was old, over mature and held little wildlife value. By laying it, an ancient country craft, we have rejuvenated the hedge, which has produced loads of new growth from the section laid last winter. A great improvement for the hedge itself and the wildlife that depends upon it!
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