We have been asked to advise on the management of Pauline's Swamp in Burwell. The area was gifted to the Burwell Parish Council some years ago and has had a variety of management since then. The new Trustees are looking to maximise the potential of this fen meadow which is of particular interest due to the calcarious springs which rise in the Swamp and adjacent areas.
Today we took our tractor over to top (mow at a high level) the rank fen vegetation which was a mix of mostly Sedge, Soft rush and Willowherb. This had overgrown after a couple of years with little management and trapped more delicate vegetation underneath. Whist not the ideal time of year to cut vegetation like this we avoided damage to delecate new growth comming through below the sedge which would have failed without the dense layer above being removed.
Following the cut we have had to rake the 'litter' (cut vegetation) off to reduce the nutrients available. Over time this management will reduce the vigour of the rush and sedge allowing more delicate fenland plants to establish across the whole area. The litter piles are important for wildlife in their own right, providing a safe winter refuge for small animals. The piles also generate heat as they rot down which is the perfect incubator for animals such as Grass Snakes to lay their eggs in.
The springs run down the site through a shallow open ditch which has become choked with sediment over time, we intend to remove some of the vegetation and silt from this ditch and widen it into shallow pools in a couple of areas, to provide more areas for invertebrates and amphibians. The calcarious water is perfect for numerous aquatic invertebrates which require the calcium to form their exo-skeletons.
Reserves Manager at the Kingfishers Bridge wetland creation project in Cambridgeshire.