We manage our reserve for wildlife but also to enable you, the visitors to enjoy the wonders of the fauna and flora that call it home.  During the late spring and summer the vegetation really gets going and we try to keep the trails open as much as possible without disturbing the wildlife that may be using it.

Keeping greenery off the paths by mowing a narrow margin and ‘light touch’ pruning back of overhanging Brambles, Reed, Grasses and Nettles ensures a safe circuit for you folks, buggies, mobility scooters and the school parties that use the reserve. Even so there is still the misconception that we are either not managing the verdant growth enough (it is not a stately home with formal gardens and lawns) or conversely destroying wildlife by trying to keep the people facing edges in check.  If we did not keep on top of it, you would simply not be able to get around come June.

The mowed edges actually create a short sward habitat not found on the marsh and the volunteers understand about going around flowering plants such as clumps of Chicory and Birds Foot Trefoil.  In the spring these edges hold many of our early spring flowers such as Ground Ivy, Celandines and Dead Nettles that are so important to our Bumblebees, Butterflies and Bee-flies.

Bird's Foot Trefoil - it will not be mowed again until it has set seed

The car park is similarly managed with two meadows instead of lawns one of which naturally surrounds our orchard but even here we do have to manage the borders as well as keeping our layed hedges in check.

Car park flora

The picnic area below the centre has paths mowed in it in accordance with what may be flowering at the time.  It is heavily used by school parties (as well as botanists, entomologists and general lunch-goers) and they all enjoy being able to have an outdoor repast surrounded by stands of waving Ox Eye Daisies, clumps of Black Medick and Red Clover and all the associated insects that utilise the space too.  Our only Bee Orchid lives here in what was once a religiously mowed lawn.

Anyone for a picnic?

Bee Orchid

Working with nature and people sometimes requires compromises on both sides and I think that we achieve that very well…