Cothill Fen, 22nd July 2017

We returned to Cothill Fen for this summer session after a few days of heavy rain!  We were here on this occasion to rake up reeds that had been cut shortly before our arrival, and to stack them into piles around the site margin.  The plan was to burn them at a later time on specially-constructed platforms.  There were also some logs from recently-felled trees to be moved off the fen itself.

As usual, we met with site warden, Judy Webb and once we had unloaded tools and tea-kit, we began the hike down to the wetland area.  Upon arrival, we saw the results of the hard work that Green-Gymmer Adrian has been undertaking here on his own, regularly, over the past few months.  This is under the guidance of Natural England, who manage the site.

Session leader Margaret outlined our jobs for the morning and went through the usual risk assessment.  We were joined this Saturday, by Andrew's mother, Judith, who along with an additional twelve of us and Judy, made for a respectable turn-out.

The weather was pleasant as we began, with intermittent sunshine, and raking began in earnest.  It was quite heavy going with the moisture under-foot, but by the break we had raked almost half the assigned area.  The cuttings had been variously pitchforked or transported away in builders' drag-bags to the edges.

Once we paused for refreshments, the skies looked a little gloomier and the heavens opened shortly afterwards with a heavy shower! We took shelter under the trees until it had passed and then got on with the task.

The second half of the site was more difficult to rake than the first, since the reeds were drier and trickier to gather.  There were also some even squelchier patches to be found underfoot as we progressed!

By the close of play, we had almost removed all the cut reeds, with only some small patches remaining.

As we began the trek back up to the car park, Judy remained on site to continue with her wildlife survey work - she had already identified a viviparous lizard along with a number of butterflies including a number of red admirals.  Adrian also stayed on - to continue with his reed scything operations.

We will return here, much later in the year, December perhaps, to continue with our valuable work at the fen.

Matt's new wellies - they wouldn't stay this pristine for long!

Meeting in the car park.

The hike down to site.

Almost there!

Margaret and Judy brief the group.

Hemp agrimony.

Raking begins.

Andrew on pitchforking detail.

Hatched moorhen eggshells.

James in pitchfork action.

The group keep busy.

Graham, Ian and Adrian attack the reeds.

A carpet of cut reeds.

Time for a break!

Tea and biscuits in the shade.

Judith busy raking.

The group progresses across the site.

Graham working hard as usual.

One of the reed piles and some resting workers.

Take 2.

Rakes and pitchforks.

The site at the end of the session.


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