Please note that the reserve is still closed due to the on-going flooding situation, however the public car park and the public footpath that follows the outer perimeter of the site are open.

A version of this blog has been posted on the Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group blog, but I thought it'd be nice to publish it here too:

Following a day and a half of heavy rain linked to Storm Babet, the River Trent adjacent to RSPB Langford Lowfields rose to its highest level since 2000 and in the early hours of Sunday 22nd October it over-topped the floodbank along a 500m stretch and came pouring onto the reserve. Langford is a restored sand and gravel quarry, just north of Newark, which effectively means we’re a big, beautiful hole sitting on the banks of one of the largest rivers in the UK. The large Trent catchment brings water down to Langford from a wide area which includes the southern part of the Peak District and once it over-tops the floodbank, huge volumes of water spill over, bringing up water levels on site rapidly and dramatically. By the end of Monday 23rd, levels on the reserve had risen by around 4 metres and the site had turned into the murky Mediterranean of the Midlands, an analogy enhanced by birds including glossy ibis, cattle egrets and up to 10 great white egrets being lured into the area by the food-rich flood waters. Trent apparently comes from Trespasser and so the river certainly lived up to its name as it once again escaped its canalised banks and snuck out into its flood plain.

Being a wetland site we’re used to a bit of water and such severe flooding does provide some spontaneous, dynamic management. However, what the longer-term impacts of these floods will be, is currently unknown. Heron and duck species benefitted and were very happy with the amount of wetness on site, feeding on vegetation, insects and small fish moved around by the flood water, whilst jubilant marsh harriers were seen picking struggling voles out of the water. On the flip side however, whilst wetland species will have adapted to cope with flooding, I can’t help but think that our terrestrial invertebrate and small mammal populations (including the aforementioned voles along with harvest mice) will be knocked back, in turn impacting species higher up the food chain. This impact will presumably be enhanced by the fact that the floods in recent years have been almost annual (October 2023, February 2021, January 2020) limiting the bounce-back time given to species. We are still planting out reed seedlings to encourage the development and spread of the habitat on site and in previous flood years we’re lost up to 70% of seedlings that had been planted the previous summer, a large number when you consider we aim to plant at least 10000 a year. Grass snakes were seen at Langford for the first time in 2019, but not since, with the flooding in January 2020 blamed for finishing off any hibernating snakes. Bearded tits, a priority reedbed species are also impacted by the flooding with wintering birds pushed off site and then seemingly not returning to nest in the spring following winter flooding or high winter water levels. Flooding probably also reduces our water quality, at least in the short-term, but then it might also bring additional fish onto site. Whether the floods are good or bad for Langford remains to be seen, but with their frequency expected to increase evidence for either side will only continue to build.

View from the Beach Hut (before and after the Great Flood. Noah's ark is just out of shot).