New kit, big difference!

New kit, big difference!

Thanks to funding from Anglian Water we have a new piece of kit that is making a huge difference to our grassland management. One of the great assets of Rutland water nature reserve is its diversity; the reserve is blessed with lots of small areas of old meadows, grassland and pasture. This is great for biodiversity, but it is also a management challenge. Putting a small number of sheep or cows on a small area for a short length of time is difficult. The reason we want to graze off the year’s growth is to allow wildflowers and plants to flourish again the next summer. To help us with this challenge we have purchased a mower harvester. This cuts and collects the year’s growth and enables us to remove it from the meadow. This is really important as taking away the nutrients stops the wildflowers being outcompeted by thistles, docks and nettles. It also gives the plants the space and light to grow well. The mower works by using a heavy duty flail that fires the cuttings into a collector at the rear. It can then tip the cuttings into a trailer or somewhere suitable to compost. This mower is a great piece of machinery ideal for the tasks we have for it and we will see improvements on reserve in coming years. By Joe Davis (Senior Reserve Officer –...
Wild Horizons’ boardwalk build

Wild Horizons’ boardwalk build

Despite a miserable outlook early on Sunday morning, some of the Wild Horizons group met at the Volunteer Training Centre to help build part of the boardwalk. After some quick introductions, we set about building sections of boardwalk using a rig and Andy’s direction with the aim of building 10 pallets by the time the morning was over.  We had originally planned to walk to the reed beds before construction began to see what our hard work would be contributing to, however the gloomy sky and already falling rain forced us to wait until after lunch. We worked from about 10am to 12:30pm in two teams; there was some competitiveness in who could complete their 5 pallets first, and we were turning them out quicker each time as we got the hang of efficiently lining up the shorter lengths on top of the longer planks then hammering them together. By the time we had finished, lunch was strongly deserved and appreciated! After some food and conversation, we headed out onto the reserve towards the reed beds where the current boardwalk is in need of replacement. We walked along the boards which take you through the reed beds, and soon discovered why they needed replacing; holes where wood had rotted were dotted here and there along the way. These boardwalks are used by the bird ringers on the reserve to set up their nets within the reed bed, meaning that people use them in the dark; I’m sure they will be very grateful for a sturdier footing! After this, we visited a few of the hides to sit down and...
Island clearance

Island clearance

One of the biggest jobs in the autumn is clearing the islands on the lagoons. Why you may ask do we do it? Well by clearing the islands we are making great areas for birds to roost and feed in the winter, but we are also creating the right conditions for breeding in the spring. We cut and rake off the vegetation from the island putting the cuttings around the edges. This allows the wildfowl to pick through the seeds and as it rots down it creates a nice muddy margin for waders to feed on. It also allows much improved viewing from the hides around the reserve. We have 8 lagoons and some lagoons have over 20 islands! The mid-week volunteer aided by staff and trainee’s work on this for about 6 weeks in the autumn, a big task! We use mowers, strimmers, forks, rakes, waders, wellingtons, boats, and a lot of energy and enthusiasm. A big well done everyone for another year of clearance. The birds and people appreciate your...

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