Sunrise: 07.54 Sunset: 04.49
When on the marsh, I am inevitably drawn to the North Pond chain – fed by natural springs rising in the swamp, it’s an important and vibrant resource and home to varied plant and animal wildlife: some of it rare. The spring water volume isn’t great, but what there is flows slowly through the center of the swamp and North Pond, close to the surface, without mixing with the main body of pond water, before overflowing into the River Stour at the southern end of the chain. During the summer months, when the water table level falls, the spring waters stop flowing.
I am trying to improve the pond with short rotation coppicing to control invasive tree species, such as willow, birch, and alder growing in and out of the water. Reducing the size of these trees and bushes allows more light to get to the aquatic plants, particularly the water oxygenators, which are very beneficial to the general health of the chain. The condition of the ponds is not bad, it could be better, it has been better, and it will get better. I guess it is correct to say that the ponds are in danger of becoming choked if nothing is done
Many trees and bushes have already been removed from the banks of the ponds, but there is still much to be done. Don’t get the idea this area is devoid of cover or effective habitat, as this is far from the case. There is a decent numbers of ringbarked standing dead wood scattered around. We have many habitat blocks centred on a mature oak, willow, silver birch or alder standards with dense ground cover around them – usually bramble, elder and willow bushes. Small and large log piles and individual logs are placed around the chain. Furthermore, we have a living otter holt and a butterfly/insect log tower here too.
I have to say that I prefer to use hand tools, volunteers and cattle to work the marsh, rather than chain saws, chemicals and contractors. It’s not possible to carry out all the necessary jobs without a chainsaw, but if I can manage without I will. Contractors have felled a lot of tree on the marsh this year and in earlier years, and they have done a marvellous job. We would not have been able to drop the number of large trees the contractors did with their chain saws and log handling machinery. Our bow saws and loppers might limit our productivity, but we are much lighter on the ground. With the hard heavy work now completed by the contractors, we are free and ready to reap the full range of benefits.