Our year on the reserve is split into two halves: the autumn-winter habitat management season and the spring-summer breeding season.

From September through to the end of February we are busy going around the reserve carrying out work to maintain or enhance areas for our key breeding species. Most of this work is guided by the reserve species targets in our management plan. These targets detail the species, avian or otherwise, that we want to attract to the reserve to breed or overwinter. Nesting islands are cleared of vegetation, willow is removed from reedbed, scrub is coppiced and many other tasks are carried out to provide the ideal habitats for our target species.

March through to August is the breeding season when resident and migrant birds are busy nesting around the reserve. Consequently, throughout these months we do not venture off-track into any of the habitats in order to prevent disturbance to breeding birds. We do, however, carry out surveys to find the number of pairs of key species using the site, so we know if what we’re doing is working. Starting in early spring we head to the reserve, usually at or before dawn, to look or listen out for the species being surveyed that day. For some surveys we listen out for territorial males; such as bittern, turtle dove and nightingale. In other surveys we count pairs of birds on nests or with chicks; such as terns, waders and waterfowl. All of our findings go towards our local reserve targets to inform our work for the next habitat management season and also get collated on a county and country level.