A Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve And Site Of Special Scientic Interest Ground Condition Vlog For 01/03/2017

Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve on 1st April 2017; the meteorological first day of spring. To save and mark the day I consider as being the start of the annual growing season, and to help me draw comparisons with the same day next year and, hopefully, many years to come, I’ve made this video of the ground conditions along the full length of the marsh – north to south. I have not included every part of the marsh, but enough to estimate a degree of progress. I guess this video will bore the pants off most people, as it features grass, rush, and grazing cattle, but its useful visual information for me .

 In most Northern Hemisphere temperate regions, spring months are March, April and May, although differences exist from country to country. Summer is June, July, August; autumn is September, October, November; winter is December, January, February. Most Southern Hemisphere temperate regions have opposing seasons with spring in September, October and November.

I slipped a dead cat over my shotgun microphone for the last six clips, which has dramatically reduced wind noise.


From Top Field Wood To The Riverside Pasture, Via The Orchid Field

The cattle have stood about twiddling their hooves in the Top Field, doing nothing constructive, and complaining a lot; they were getting physical with each other, too. So this morning I took them to the South Riverside Pasture for a couple of days holiday. I left some grazing in the North Pasture, so I might move them there on Thursday. At least they have stopped moaning now.

Too Wet or Too Dry?

I’m looking at Wilden Marsh hydrology in an attempt to achieve more effective control of the marsh water levels throughout the year.

One of our aims is to attract breeding wading birds. Wading birds like muddy marginal areas around water bodies to feed in, and to breed they like very particular ground conditions. We have heron, lapwing, snipe, curlew and red shank on the marsh, and these breed between mid March and mid July. Raised water levels are preferred between November through to mid February and low water levels from mid July until end of August. Grazing is a useful tool we can use to help create ground conditions inline with our conservation aims. Intensive grazing is best carried out between August to December inclusive. There should also be minimal interruption of existing and potential breeding grounds between March and July inclusive. It would also be a good idea to reduce rush cover between August and October inclusive. Any work associated with sluices, bunds and scrapes should be carried our during August to December inclusive.

In some areas we need to reduce water levels before the start of the growing season to prevent aquatic plant dominance.

I shot the following video as a visual record of current conditions to help with future planning.

Dining On Hay And A Mineral Lick

The cattle, having eaten most of the greenery on the marsh, are now dining on hay and a mineral Lick until enough new grass has grown to sustain them.

Tulip, one of the three mothers I suspected of being low on magnesium, was energetically licking the mineral block when I arrived at the Top Field alongside Wilden Lane, and she was still fervently licking it when I left the cattle an hour later. Jill, one the other cows I suspected of being low on magnesium, was trying to get her tongue on the mineral block, but Tulip had assumed ownership and was not at all keen on any of the other cattle taking it from her, as can be seen on the video below.