The 450 metre long Central Drainage Ditch conducts overflow through the South Riverside Pasture to the River Stour; it drains the Flooded Wood Pasture, the Middle Wood, the Rhombus Field, the Orchid Field, and the Riverside Pasture into the River Stour. The ditch is clogged with silt and vegetation and, although still working, I’m wondering if I can make it more wildlife friendly. The alternative is to use an excavator at the end of the growing season to clean the ditch, which means more ground being ripped up by wheeled or tracked heavy equipment.
I have started manually removing silt and vegetation at position 2 along the drainage ditch, where there is a wooden plank weir. My plan is to clear a fifteen metre long by two to three metre wide ditch section upstream of this weir, to a centre depth of around 600mm.
The downstream ditch to South Pool looks like this:
Upstream from the plank weir looks like this:
I remember clearing this ditch with our roving volunteers quite a few years ago. I jumped across the ditch and one of our current Reserves Officers, then an intern with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, tried to make the leap, but fell spread-eagled into the water filled ditch.
With a little luck and fair weather, I will finish clearing Pool 2 before frogs start spawning. The other two ponds I will leave until the last quarter of this year.
The clumps of reed grass growing in the ditch are very tenacious with their 600mm to 900mm long root systems, they don’t let go of the pond bottom easily.