It was Labrador Bay’s turn for some attention this week. Labrador Bay is an RSPB reserve situated between Shaldon and Torquay along the A379, close to Maidencombe. A perfect example of traditionally managed South Devon agricultural land with rolling hills right down to the sea, the reserve is absolutely stunning. The steep fields are left with plenty of wild meadow areas, providing the perfect habitat for insects. This hot sunny weather provides great butterfly watching conditions, with plenty of marbled whites, meadow browns, red admiral, along with cinnabar moths - which I often think look like butterflies disguised as moths - can be seen fluttering between the long grasses and wild flowers.

Labrador Bay, stunning in this hot weather

Because of the careful management strategy, it is one of the best places in the country to spot cirl buntings! With 29 breeding pairs, your chances of seeing one are really quite high. Look and listen out for males singing their hearts out perched on top of hedges of bushes. With the South West Coast Path and a number of other RSPB footpaths running through the reserve, access is great and you are able to thoroughly explore every inch!

A winter storm had brought down a large tree right onto a fence line, so our task this week was to rip out the damaged fencing and replace it - if you look carefully you may be able to see a rather shiny looking new bit of fencing!

Brief break to take in the view  

The pleasure of being out in the field, is that we get to chat with people out on the reserve. Whilst gazing out over the bright blue sea, one man said ‘and you call this work do you!?’ And he was right, being able to work in such beautiful settings really does make the job feel not at all like work! Although it must be said, lugging old fence posts, a fence basher, a strimmer and any number of other tools up the hill at the end of the day sure does get you sweating.

Happy to be finished with the final post 

Managing a wet marsh is rather hard when it hasn’t rained properly for a number of weeks – there is less of the wet, and more just plain dry. This feels like some kind of record (although it always seems to be the hottest, wettest, coldest, windiest month ‘on record’) and the marsh is certainly struggling to maintain its marshy qualities. We do however, have a few methods for maintaining water.

Water seeping back into crisp dry marsh

Exminster, Powderham, Bowling Green, Goosemoor and Matford marshes all have networks of water channels which can be played with in order to maintain some control over water levels. This said, when it is quite this dry, there is very little water to play with. On Exminster marsh there is also a large storage pool/lagoon which fills over the winter. Early this week, we went out to open a selection of sluice gates to let some water flow into much needed dry areas. It was brilliant seeing water re-flood these areas and this will of course provide the muddy pools which the birds love so much.

'Look at that water, lovely isn't it' 

P.S. I have been informed by one of our work party volunteers, that my spelling is terrible, so i must apologies… I must keap an aye on this four the future!