I’m sorry the title was a cheap shot but the Farlington cows are indeed on the move. All the cattle have now left from the main marsh, making way for the winter feathered arrivals. Some have left the site all together while others are now behind the building in west mudlands and the bushes, so please keep an eye out for them if you are around these areas of Farlington and pass on any comments if you see anything unusual. The Swanwick cows have also now left after doing a fantastic job this summer being organic lawn mowers, while the Hook Heath cows still have some munching left to do.
Cattle are such an important part of managing our nature reserves. Through grazing our grasslands they keep the vegetation low and soil fertility poor, which helps keeps biodiversity high. The hardy breeds of cattle, Red Devon and British White, that we select for Swanwick and Hook Heath are also great at chewing back the scrub regrowth allowing more space for grasses and wild flowers.
On grazing projects trust wide we rely on volunteers who keep a close eye on the cows. This dedicated group are know as lookers. They count the number of cows and look to see if any of the cows are unwell. I am currently looking for more people to do this at Farlington particularly for next year when they come back in the spring. If you think this is something you would be interested in doing please feel free to contact me on my email – robs(at)hwt.org.uk.
This week we have been incredibly busy with replacing the old fencing between the main marsh and the reed bed. Both the Beechcroft Teams and the Farlington Team have made fantastic progress. Over four days we managed to put in the posts for around 430 metres of fencing, which is 7 sets of bigger straining posts and about 145 smaller intermediate posts. A fantastic effort all around, including the later than usual finish today to get to the stage where all we need to do is put up the wire.
While we were busy knocking in posts lots of Bearded tits were performing explorative flights over the reed bed. Groups of 5 -7 could be seen shooting up out of the reed bed early on Tuesday morning. Cetti’s warblers were also rather vocal along with the occasional squawk from a Water rail. There was also a report of a Marsh harrier earlier on in the week.