Tarps on the Marsh

The Marsh today was looking exactly as it should following the high rainfall we have had recently. It is a floodplain, taking the runoff from the bypass and surrounding industrial areas and in doing so, providing a magnificent habitat for wetland species. Geese, gulls, starlings, skylarks, ravens, and a Little Egret were taking advantage of the standing water to poke about for invertebrates. The volume being held must be immense, and clearly illustrates the value of such a flexible area given the weather we experience.

Our task today was to set out a tarpaulin in the Reptile Zone to kill off a patch of grass so that we can seed it with wildflowers. It was extremely sloshy but we pegged and weighed it down:

It’s a 5.5 x 2m tarp, and we have another in case we want to try a second patch. There are a number of options regarding the reseeding, from collecting seeds from the Apiary to buying in some suitable marsh-loving varieties. This is something the schoolchildren can be part of when the time comes.

We also said a quick hello to the bees. The top bar’s entrance block – well, twig – had fallen out so we replaced it with a piece of Warré top bar. The sun was shining on them so they were flying well and bringing in the odd spot of pollen. The Warré was much quieter, being in shadow as it faces the opposite way. Honeybees need it to be above about 7˚C to fly and it was a glorious and calm day. Hopefully the more robust entrance block will stop the prevailing wind whistling up around their nest.

We had seen a fox scoot across from the Reptile Zone along the bank of the sewer before disappearing in to a bramble thicket, so that may be what has been digging holes in the apiary. The healthiest black poplar sapling has some emerging leaves despite having a few nibbles at the base of its trunk. We may have discovered who has been munching the stems: as Paul lifted a large sheet of plastic, out scampered a little vole. Here is a picture of its nest:

We replaced the sheet so the vole could get back in the warm and dry.

We have a consignment of 450 hedging plants being delivered later in the month, so we will be back to peg out the remaining tarp and heel in the whips. Hopefully the weather will be as kind as it was today…

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