Monday, June 30, 2014

Cothill Fen, 28th June 2014

We met opposite the Merry Miller pub for our session at Cothill Fen Nature Reserve under the direction of Judy Webb. Reeds had been cut on part of the fen and our main task was to rake them up. The weather was rather damp and cloudy with occasional flurries of rain.

Having walked along the path to the site, we set to work raking the reeds into piles. We had brought drag bags, which made the task of transporting the piles of reeds over to the heaps on the edge of the fen much easier. There was also some cutting back of scrub which was encroaching on the fen. Robert chose this task and set to work with great enthusiasm so the raking was accompanied by the sound of crashing branches interspersed with cries of "Be careful" and "Are you supposed to be cutting those big branches down?"

Judy pointed out the common spotted orchids and the marsh helleborines. There was also bog pimpernel growing on some of the tussocks. It is a tiny flower, rather like scarlet pimpernel but pink. Cutting and raking away the reeds lets the light through and as a result these flowers are spreading on the fen. We also saw spectacular scarlet tiger moths, but the highlight of the morning was finding a beautifully woven warblers' nest on a stem with about 8-10 babies in it. We think it was a reed warbler but couldn't be sure. Having photographed it we moved quickly away from the area and were relieved to see the parent birds returning to the nest.

After the break we continued raking but there were also lighter tasks of bending or breaking reed stems and pulling up bracken fronds. Preventing bracken from encroaching will also let more light in and encourage the rare alkaline fen plants to grow. Just before 12.30 it began to rain heavily. We hastily packed up collected our tools and made our way back to the car park. Once again our luck with the weather had held until almost the end of the session.

Thanks to Judy Webb for supplying the photos:

Hard at work at Cothill Fen

Good flowering of bog pimpernel


Pulling reed outliers and bracken

Reed outliers advancing

Marsh helleborine orchid

Marsh helleborine orchid

Robert pulls reed outliers in fen

Scarlet tiger moth

Scarlet tiger moth

Scarlet tiger moth

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