The riverbank following alongside the old waterway to the SSSI North-Pit; a former Victorian limestone quarry, has now been fenced off the main river for two of our Water Buffalo; Donald and Dumbo, in an experiment to tackle the Floating Pennywort.
Floating Penny-wort is an invasive weed from south America which was accidentally introduced to the UK as a plant in domestic ponds. Over the last decade is has become a major problem along the river cam, particularly the upper river and its tributary's as well as spreading to close by water bodies. In high summer when the growth rate is highest it can form floating mats which completely block the navigation channel, costing the Environment Agency many thousands of pounds a year to remove mechanically. However within the Main Project area of the Nature reserve it is unseen, we believe this is due to grazing by our breeding Water Buffalo herd. On the washes the Highland Cattle do graze it as far as they can wade into the ditches but as the water buffalo will happily swim and eat we believe they have eradicated it within the Buffalo grazed parts of the reserve.
Donald and Dumbo (our castrated, tame males) have already begin to graze the floating Penny-wort in this latest experiment at Kingfishers Bridge and we have high hopes that they will clear the ditch by the end of the summer. The outcomes of this experiment may have valuable implications for managing the Penny-wort on the main river.
Our two latest foals and some of the last to be born at kingfishers for a while, as we now have optimal numbers for the needs of the reserve. Maximus our stallion has now been victimised in order to stop physical results of breeding but to allow the group to continue acting socially as a breeding heard.
Construction of the willow hide has begun, fortunately unhindered by the snow only making the ground a little unwelcoming. Using off cuts of the old willow hide that was crushed during storm Doris by the poplar's, hopefully with the groundwater rising it should take well.
kingfishers bridge has its second fall of snow this year although heavier than seen in a long time, and really brings out the beauty of the fens.
The warbler wood at present, we have now finished earth works on the former poplar plantation for this year. Really happy with the outcome in trying to create the most natural looking water bodies possible. Next we will begin forming a low scrub woodland to help further attract many members of the warbler family.
Also created during the earth works is a small mound which within the next year will become The Wader Watch, a screen hide over looking the wader meadow as shown in the example picture below.
We are looking forward to further works on the rest of the former poplar plantation nearest the lake, once the timber has been removed in the new year.
The new water bodies around the earth mound are just about finished. The new scrape will flood during the winter when ground water levels rise but is able to hold some permanent water at it's base right through the summer.
Hoping to attract a great range of invertebrates for the area. The top of the mound consisting of loose soil for species who like to dig their own burrows, with large boulders at the base creating cracks and crevasses for those species who like to make use of the shelter already formed at the base.
The pond is fully clay lined and can be artificially filled from the river to give us another guaranteed water body even in very dry periods such as we've had over the last 2 summers.
The Black bird chicks in our tractor are continuing to grow rapidly with the increase in insects flying in this hot weather. the breeze today is very welcome for them and us; sitting under a metal engine cover cannot have been pleasant yesterday!
After clearing some more of the rubbish the pools of water along the river bank are settling nicely!
Reserves Manager at the Kingfishers Bridge wetland creation project in Cambridgeshire.