Our Conservation Intern Matt, updates us on what the reserve team have been up to this week
Its been another eventful week at Titchwell and the reserve team has been working hard throughout the short days to keep up with the winter work plan. But hey, working outdoors when fifty plus marsh harriers circle the reedbed to roost, lit by a glowing sunset is not too bad as an office!
This was what we kept telling ourselves at the beginning of the week as we braved gale force winds to carry out scrub clearance. Having already created access paths throughout the reedbed in previous weeks we could now start cutting back scrub. Scrub clearance is an important job aimed at preventing the natural succession of the reedbed into wet woodland over time. Some scrub is good, it provides good habitat for a variety of wildlife, but it takes over and spreads rapidly so needs to be controlled. We removed willow and sycamore trees from the east side of the reedbed, near the east bank observation point. This also had to the added benefit of allowing us to better see the reedbed when carrying out surveys. We also cut Willow back within the reedbed, where it meets the freshwater marsh along the draining ditch.
On Tuesday, we headed off to Lincolnshire to help with hedge planting at Frampton Marsh. Seven thousand whips of Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Dog-rose needed planting and many hands make light work, so we were happy to help. Personally, it was great to head back to the place where I had spent the previous six months as an intern, and it was great for the two teams to meet. It was not ideal hedge planting weather but together we made a good effort and planted the whips all the way from the visitor centre all along the main access road. As the different trees and shrubs begin to grow, they will support an abundance of wildlife, providing fruit for autumn thrushes and waxwings and invertebrates for summer warblers.
The hedge planting at Frampton Marsh along the road
Wednesday saw us continue with scrub clearance. We carried on clearing Willow directly south of freshwater marsh, where it meets the reedbed, and we then removed scrub in the reedbed adjacent to the beginning of the west bank path, just after willow carr. Again, this is part of larger scale plans to rejuvenate the reedbed and prevent natural succession to support species such as bitterns and bearded tits.
Thursday was eventful when we counted a whopping ninety-six Marsh Harriers coming out of their night time roost in the reedbed!!! These whopping numbers really show how well the species is doing and the fact that roosts are found only in protected areas shows how all our efforts in conservation, from volunteers to staff, make a real difference.
The end of the week saw us helping with the build up to our winter wonderland event that took place on Saturday, to welcome mother nature. A big thanks to all staff and volunteers who have worked hard this week to prepare!
I almost forgot, sightings this week included a brief visit from a whooper swan, a peregrine seen hunting and taking waders over the sea, woodcock, hen harriers, barn owl and spotted redshank.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Written by Matt O’Connell (practical conservation intern)
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