Yesterday was an exhilarating bright warm late winter Saturday. Clouds of tiny midge-like flies reminded me that biting mosquitos would soon plague my marsh days; thank goodness for insect repellent!
The light was harsh, but sitting on the riverbank with the cattle behind me, watching marsh wildlife from a comfortable folding chair, was an enjoyable and welcome activity. I was 150 metres from the heronry, so a couple of the videos were affected by heat haze.
Please click on the image below to view my videos and images of herons at the heronry, an egret, barn owl and muntjac deer.
Middle Wood was a Wilden marsh non-intervention compartment for many years. Non-interventions areas can become overgrown with unwanted vegetation, and in the case of Middle Wood, tall, tightly packed invasive Himalayan balsam is an annual problem. Last year, I removed part of the boundary stock fence and used the marsh cattle to prepare the ground between the trees before this year’s growing season. The herd did an excellent job of clearing the wood floor. The white ground litter seen in the wood and video is the dried remains of sun-bleached balsam stalks. I couldn’t get the cattle in Middle Wood early enough last year to eat all the balsam growing there. Some of the dried balsam litter is from previous years.
Before adopting cattle grazing, two metres high, densely packed Himalayan balsam carpeted Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve. Thankfully, this is not now the case. I plan to control the remaining, small balsam problem pockets with cattle grazing. Himalayan balsam surrounds the Reserve on three sides, so without the cattle to keep it in check, it will once again invade and choke the Reserve.