Summer is well and truly upon us and the breeding season for many of our bird species is approaching the end for the year, which means its time to start field operations within these fields to keep them in great condition for breeding, passage and overwintering wildfowl and waders. 

In early spring we keep and maintain high water levels within the fields as this is what our waders are looking for, as eggs start to hatch in our lapwing and redshank nests, we begin to drop our water levels to slowly to keep wet mud available for the wading birds and chicks. This continues until mid-June and the chicks have fledged at which point we let the fields dry out, which is where we are now and why some of the fields are drying out.

By allowing the fields to dry out from mid-June we are able to access the whole field in July and undertake the cutting of dominating species such as rush and rejuvenate grass growth. It also allows us to rotivate up some of the wetter areas a couple of weeks after topping to maintain the bare ground needed and looked for by wading birds. We can also rotivate up some areas of rush to prevent this dominating the grassland fields.

Without allowing the fields to dry we will not be able to access much of the fields, this is similar to last year when due to very wet conditions caused by the shocking weather, we were not able to access many of the fields until September thereby missing some of the autumn migration window when we could have suitable habitat for feeding for passage waders and we were playing catch up to complete works before the end of the month when the grassland management window closes. 

We intend to start work in the fields in early July by cutting the grass seed heads and rush before rotivating towards the end of the month and into early August, There are additional works which we hope to undertake in August in some of our grassland fields, but we are awaiting final consent on this work.

Once these works have been completed or within fields that will not be having this proposed additional work, we will be looking to pump water in to wet these up in August. 

All cutting will be above the height of flowering legumes such as red clover to ensure there continues to be abundant food supply for bumblebees onsite. We do plan on opening our wildflower meadow walk within the Boulderwall fields following the positive feedback on this last year and we will inform everyone when this opens. 

So if you visit in the next few weeks and see dry grassland fields or work happening, hopefully this will help you understand what we are doing. 

If you have any questions on the work that we do on site, please dont hesitate to ask a member of the team on dungeness@rspb.org.uk

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