The Environment Agency Perry Barr and Witton flood risk management scheme is well underway downstream (as seen in the photo below). They are constructing a dam and earth bunds, which will be grassy and green, both of which will hold back water during flood situations, protecting over a thousand properties downstream.

The likelihood of Forge Mill Lake, which is part of the RSPB reserve, flooding because of this scheme is slightly more than it would have been before, so we have worked with the Environment Agency to produce stronger wetland habitats making them even stronger for birds to breed and feed. The aim is to increase productivity on the years when there aren’t floods.

To improve the feeding opportunities the islands were lengthened and some edges were “wobbled” to increase their length. Shelving at just below average water level was created in several areas for wading birds to feed.

Clearing the vegetation, building some new small islands and extending the islands increases the potential for breeding birds, such as lapwing and oystercatcher who like low vegetation so that they can clearly see any predators approaching. A wave break of stones on the westerly island is designed to reduce the erosion experienced before due to the water flow in the lake.

The lake edge opposite the hide has been shelved out into the lake at just below water level and planted with reed turfs taken from a pool near the marsh. This is already providing a nice feeding area for water rail and snipe. The reeds should expand into a larger reedbed as the turfs establish.

We plan to put shingle on one of the islands, replicating the shingle island which has been left untouched. This provides nesting habitat for oystercatchers and possibly little ringed plovers. The other islands will regenerate naturally.

The works were certainly approved of by the birds with a common sandpiper and ringed plover checking them out while the digger was active. Lapwing, snipe, common gull and little egrets are among the species enjoying the habitats since the works finished.

The muddy tracks left by the vehicles are going to be seeded with meadow wildflower species.

Our thanks to the Environment Agency for supporting the reserve with this work, and to the contractors Jacksons for working with us to get a great result.

Photos by Andy Purcell

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