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Reedbed Management

Thursday, February 6th 2020

One of the most beautiful and important habitats at the reserve is the reedbed in the Scrapes. 

Over time reedbeds can gradually dry out through the build-up of silt, and develop into scrub and woodland. Traditionally, the tall stems were harvested in winter to be used for thatching, and this helped to set back the succession. There is only a small reedbed at Foxglove but in order to maintain it, it has to be cut once in a while to encourage new reed growth. The timing of this job is crucial; not too early in winter as birds use it to roost on cold winter nights and not too late because once it warms up the amphibians return to breed. Large reedbeds are cut using big machinery however, due to the small size and the inaccessability of this one, the only way is to do it with hedgecutters and strimmers and a lot of helpers. Therefore, this morning staff and volunteers donned wellies and waders and set to

You could soon see a big difference.

Hedgecutters were used in the deeper parts of the pond whilst a strimmer was used around the edges. Although there was a frosty start to the day, winter sunshine and blue skies made the mammoth task a pleasant one.

Long hay rakes were used to pull the cut reeds from the pond as if they were left they would rot and cause a lack of oxygen.

Piles and piles of stems were soon stacked onto the adjacent boardwalk.

These were then transported by wheelbarrow all the way back to the carpark (a few hundred metres away).

At the carpark they were loaded onto a trailer ready to be removed from the site.

By late morning, well over two thirds of the work had been completed.

After a quick scooby doo (brew), it was back to finish off the cutting and raking.

Once the cutting was complete, patches of open water were visible. The re-growth will be quick and by late summer this area will have greened up again. Only around a third of the total reedbed was cut to leave some tall reeds for the roosting birds. A different swathe will be harvested next winter.

The saying that 'many hands make light work' sprang to mind and none of this would have been possible without so many volunteers including young people from Northdale Horticulture.

The final touch was to clear the footpaths of debris with rakes, brushes and a leafblower.

Three cheers for the team that made it happen!

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