Another blog here from Jenny, our Visitor Experience Intern. This week she is looking at a question that lots of our visitors have been asking. "Why is there so much water?"

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If you’re heading over to Frampton Marsh over the next few weeks you might notice it currently looks a little bit like Atlantis, only wetter. Don’t worry, we’re not reopening as an aquarium. The habitat is carefully managed by our warden and his hardworking team of staff and volunteers to provide a diverse range of habitats and extend the breeding season. They work hard to keep the reserve dynamic and constantly changing to appeal to a wide range of wildlife.

 

For those who are new to the exciting world of scrape management, here’s a quick introduction to the topic and what we’re doing here at Frampton Marsh:

 

A scrape is a shallow pool of water that gradually dries out over the summer. Scrapes offer a habitat for many different birds but particularly for breeding waders. Our scrapes at Frampton provide a habitat for redshanks, avocets, curlews, godwits and many others.

 

There are three scrapes at Frampton Marsh; north scrape, middle scrape and south scrape. We have more habitat than the breeding birds need which allows us to vary the habitats. By doing this we provide a diverse range of habitats for our birds to enjoy and we can refresh habitats.

 

These are managed on rotation so the water levels are never at the same height at the same time, well that’s the plan anyway… By keeping varied water levels, we can support a wider variety of species. By not exposing all our islands at the same time, we prolong the breeding season, giving a second chance to those that may have failed locally or elsewhere. 

 

North scrape is currently very dry, this is so we can plant a seed crop for autumn finches and winter wildfowl. It also refresh’s the habitat by putting organic matter back into the soil for small worms and insects to munch on and grow big for future breeding seasons.

Middle scrape

 Middle scrape is currently full of water. The islands are all submerged on this scrape so that black-headed gulls cannot nest here. The water levels will be dropped around May to allow late-coming common terns, gulls and waders to build their nests here, extending the breeding season.

South scrape

South scrape is currently the ideal habitat for nesting birds as it has a good level of water and plenty of space on the islands for our avocets and gulls to nest in the coming months.

 

We’re constantly working to keep our reserve dynamic and adaptable. We know from past years and through experience across our RSPB reserve network that scrapes are not the wader magnet that you may expect them to be in the Spring. Our wet grassland is the best place to find smaller waders as the food resources have built up over the winter.

 

For more information check out our warden’s video (coming soon) on scrape management!

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