Spring doesn’t officially arrive until 20th March; I’m excited by the thought the season’s possibilities. The grass is growing strongly for January. Green plants cover poached ground and other recently bare patches of mud and along river banks. Herons are assembling at the heronry for their breeding season, and they are becoming increasingly vocal. Various ground and tree holes around the marsh are being inspected, and cleared out in some cases, by animals searching for new homes. Woodpeckers are drumming on dead trees and metal electricity pylons, and kingfishers are zooming up and down the River Stour and Hoo brook with a new purpose. The marsh is generally getting busier.
I spent a few hours looking down holes today to determine which are likely to be inhabited early this year. Badgers are investigating old sets, but I have yet to find evidence of the vixen being interested in denning on the marsh this year. Still, it is early days, and I have not looked everywhere.
I am striving to improve my camera techniques, develop a creative eye, and generally introduce stronger content. I am hoping to produce exciting and informative videos about llife on Wilden Marsh. You blog followers are my unwitting guinea pigs; I hope I don’t drive you away in the process. Here is today’s offering. If you have time, please feel free to offer constructive advice and criticism that might help me on my journey.
Wilden Marsh and Meadows is the richest and most diverse wetland habitat in Worcestershire. Here are a few of the locally scarce flora that can be found growing on the valley floor of this Reserve.
The river valley in this area was deeply excavated into the Triassic sandstone country-rock during cold stages of the Pleistocene, which also left valley-floor deposits of sands and gravels. During the Flandrian, superficial deposits of fen peat and alluvial clayey silts accumulated to a depth of about 3 metres, accounting for the present nearly flat topography. In the last century the River Stour was canalised to its present course in the Lower Stour Valley at Wilden, from the original course closer to the line of the canal.
Most of the reserve has circum-neutral soils which are damp or wet throughout the year, including alluvial and gleyed soils developed on clay-silts and humic soils overlying fen peat. In small areas with underlying sandstone bedrock the soils tend to be more acidic and drainage is freer.
A high water-table was responsible for development of fen peat and the continuing existence of fen vegetation on the reserve. Flood alleviation work carried out by The Severn Trent Water Authority during 1978 and 1979 excavated the channel of the river by up to 2 metres south of Platts Wharf. Piezometer records show that this has caused a significant drop in the level of the water-table within the marsh, especially at the southernmost part of the reserve. In 2010 two rock weirs were constructed to raise the water levels by 2 metres at each weir (close to Pratts wharf and also at WWT southern end).