Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Not all bankers are bad....

Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to see the development of a new wetland site along the coast between Titchwell and Holkham. The site at Deepdale Marsh was bought by a private individual who works in the banking sector who had the vision to create a nature reserve. The 200 acre site has been converted from arable into a pretty good wet grassland with an increasing population population of breeding waders. Last year the site held over 60 avocet, 30 lapwing and 20 redshank, has breeding marsh harrier and locally breeding bitterns feed on the site. 3 winters ago, a flock of 50+ Lapland buntings were present in the spring.

Earlier this week I visited the site to have a look at the next phase of work that will improve the site further. One of the issues with the site is that is dries up quickly so the rotary ditcher has been used to install some new footdrains and pools to increase feeding areas for wader chicks.

The ditcher is an American machine that is used to create drainage ditches along roads in the States. Here is is being used in wetland creation. The machine is towed behind a tractor with a large spinning disc at its heart.The machine works to a laser level and automatically adjusts to the differing ground heights to keep the new features level. The spinning wheels has small buckets on it and they remove the excavated material from the new ditch and spreads it thinly by the side. This machine is has many advantages over a conventional 360 digger with the speed of operation being the biggest.

Dry areas of grassland before the ditcher has done its work

The ditches are created by making a number of passes with the machine. Each pass allows the ditch to be made as wide and as deep as required. The machine creates a nice shallow profile and throws the material to one side in a thin layer. This breaks down quickly and vegetation soon recovers.

A bit of rainwater has already started to collect in this new ditch

The machine can also be used to create large shallow scrapes. This requires lots of passes over an area until the desired size and depth is reached.

There are a few existing ditches that are left over from the arable days of the site. Some of the new features have been keyed into this system to ensure thay maintain water in them throughout the year and will probably not dry up during the summer

These features are already looking good after only a couple of days

Its not only man and machine that is creating this new wetland but some of the traditional methods are still going strong. Grazing is an excellent way of managing any grasssland with Highland cattle being used at Deepdale.

A cracking site that should only get better over the next few years.

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