Cothill Fen, 26th September 2015

A slightly smaller group than usual, nine Green Gymmers assembled in the car park for the first of two visits to Cothill Fen on our current programme. We were working under the direction of Judy Webb, who is an expert on the wildlife and ecology of the area. 

It was a lovely day, with blue sky and sunshine and hardly any wind. We were pleased to see Erin, who had completed her Duke of Edinburgh bronze section in the Spring, back again. Our main task was to rake a large area of cut reed and to cut down the alder that was sprouting from the tree stumps. We needed to use large wooden rakes for the reeds and it was hard work, with the added exciting possibility of stepping thigh deep in muddy fen water. 

The deepest part of the fen is fenced off with an electric fence to prevent the horses, which graze the fen for part of the year, from falling in. These horses are from Wales and will eat even the toughest vegetation. They didn't seem to be around when we were there, however. Maybe they had gone to Twickenham to watch an important rugby match.

After a welcome tea break, we continued working. A number of rare species can be found in this alkaline fen, including Grass of Parnassus (parnassia palustris), with its five petalled white flowers. Cothill Fen and Parsonage Moor are the southernmost limits of its range. Judy also took a photo of mating common darter dragonflies (sympetrum striolatum).

By the end of the session there was still quite a large area that we hadn't managed to rake. but we will be back again in two weeks' time to finish the job.

Cutting back sprouting alder

Erin and Kate piling up the reeds

James raking

Judy working behind the electric fence

Lesley handing round the biscuits

The fen at the end of the session

Mating pair of common darter dragonflies Sympetrum striolatum (photo by Judy Webb)


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