Louise Greenwood, Fleet Pond’s new Ranger, writes:
Rare plants that have not been recorded in the area since the 60’s and 70’s are once again thriving in the correct wet conditions. Last year extensive restoration works went on in East Marsh and Coldstream Marsh to remove the encroaching scrub and trees. The restored habitat was also visited by a wood sandpiper in July.
East Marsh and Coldstream Marsh were becoming encroached by scrub and trees from the surrounding woodland; this was creating shade and drawing up water from the wetland areas, creating too dry an area for the important plants to grow. The trees were cut down and the timber sold locally as firewood. The scrub was removed with a machine and mulched. The chippings from this were then scraped into piles on the woodland edge. These spoil piles will soon be covered with vegetation themselves, creating important habitats for small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates.
Some of the wetland plants that have been recorded this summer include species such as lesser water plantain and marsh speedwell, both of which produce small delicate flowers. Bottle sedge and bladder sedge have also been recorded. Both of these species are regionally scarce due to their decline in numbers over recent years. The most notable find was pillwort, a small creeping fern that is listed as internationally threatened on the European Red Data List. The UK holds a large proportion of the pillwort population but it has not been found at Fleet Pond since 1964. Several colonies have now been found in the marshes indicating that these management techniques are working well.
The technique of scraping away the vegetation had been trialled previously on a small scale and the results were very encouraging with some scarce and threatened plants returning to the site. Shallow pools have also been created in this area, making a perfect habitat for many wetland plants, dragonflies, damselflies and water fowl. In July the pools were visited by a Wood Sandpiper, this is only the 6th record of this migrant wader at Fleet Pond since 1960.
Ed. There is a map of the mentioned locations on the About page above.
Picture credit: Gary Loader.