On Monday, with the help of the Swanwick and Beechcroft volunteer teams, we successfully moved the cattle from New hill at Swanwick, where they had been happily grazing for the past 10 days. New hill had not been grazed for the last few years so it was great to get some cows on it to break it up a little. The remaining part of the day the Beechcroft team and I were cutting and raking up the long ‘leggy’ vegetation which the cattle did not eat. ‘Topping’, as its called is something we have been busy with down at Farlington too, however at Farlington we have the luxury of a tractor and a topper (basically a huge lawnmower – a large rotating blade). The reason we do this is to improve the structure of the grassland, not letting a single longer/higher species dominate, resulting in a more biodiverse meadow.
The Beechcroft team did an excellent job at cutting the top of New hill and hopefully we should have a more diverse grassland next year with more colourful nectar filled flowers.
Yesterday I was joined by the Farlington team in cutting yet more grass around the southern end of the marsh. I was confined to zooming around in the tractor & topper around Seamus’ pond, while the volunteers did a great job on mowers and brushcutters cutting areas around The Deeps. This is mainly for the returning winter wildfowl such as the ducks and Brent geese but its also to get a favourable grassland structure for next years breeding waders.
While we sat and ate our lunch on the shores of The deeps we were treated to flybys of Migrant hawkers, darting along the lake edge above the marginal vegetation. All appeared to be vibrant males like this one below.
While we were out on the marsh we kept a good eye out for interesting birds that seem to be dropping in on a daily basis to Langstone Harbour. Although our luck was not in there were reports of Spotted flycatcher and Redstart in The Bushes. Also reported was Marsh Harrier (Reedbed), Curlew Sandpiper (the lake), Hobby, Kingfisher (along ditch edge) and two Osprey (in the harbour). Amongst the cattle on the main marsh I counted 30 Yellow wagtails darting around, feeding on flies.