Cothill Fen, 23rd July 2016

A trip to Cothill Fen for a session on one of the hottest days of the year!  Even as we assembled in the car park opposite the Merry Miller pub, it was obvious that the day would be rather a scorcher. No matter, we carried our tools down to the fen and awaited instruction from site supervisor Judy Webb, on the morning's tasks.  Alongside our regulars, we were joined by a new member, Adrian.

The main objective this time was to rake up some of the recently cut reeds on the fen and stack them into piles. There was also some cutting back of vegetation encroaching onto the periphery of the fen, such as willow, alder and bracken. 

The ground was soggy and the sun was beating down with no shade for the most part, thus we worked at a steady pace, ensuring that we remained well hydrated!

There was evidence of high nitrates in the water as indicated by duckweed - not good for this fragile habitat or for the rare flora and fauna that it supports. Therefore we attempted to re-route some of the drainage channels that run through the site by careful positioning of the reed piles. However, a more permanent solution will require investigating.  

Fortunately in some areas of the fen, the wildlife appeared to be thriving.  Judy carried out some survey work and identified various species including the carnivorous plant, bladderwort, some dragonfly nymphs and soldier flies.

The refreshment break provided us with a good opportunity to cool off and Sally had provided some cake in honour of session leader Margaret's birthday next week!

We continued work and finished our raking task, careful to avoid the deep patches of water around the site. Unfortunately, I was not quite careful enough and managed to plunge my foot into one of the dampest areas - in and over my wellies! 

We left Judy to continue her survey work at the 12:30pm end of session and we much relieved to finish, get home and have the chance to relax!

A hot and sunny start!
Looking across the fen
Margaret and Judy provide instruction
Off to work...
The raking gets started
One of the reed piles
Robert tackles some alder growth
Mid reed-raking
Hemp Agrimony
The edge of the fen
Back for refreshments!
The break
A dragonfly nymph
The fen at the end of the session


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