The group of ecologists tasked with keeping the A14 project on track with its environmental responsibilities came for a day of respite last week to Byron’s Pool reserve. They are hardly ever all in one place at the same time so they welcomed the chance to work together on some practical tasks, main job for the day was clearing out the blocked fish pass at the reserve which they tackled with gusto! They also did some more mellow work on the new wild flower meadow doing some strategic weeding. They were a great bunch of people and it was very interesting and comforting to hear about the mitigation work they are undertaking as part of the massive A14 project.
The conservation volunteers made an early start on subduing the invasive marginal plant, Himalayan Balsam. It’s pretty yes, and later in the season a good food source for invertebrates agreed, but still there’s no room for complacency. Without a firm hand this plant has the potential to completely dominate a stream side or riverbank. Therefore sensitive management is needed. Last month the young plants were located and pulled up in the marsh area at Byron’s pool reserve. It’s easier to spot and remove them when everything is smaller otherwise later on in the season it’s a bit of a battle to actually get to the plants to pull them up. Therefore the volunteers were tasked with a gentle wander through the marsh spotting and then pulling up the seedlings. Although effective this did require a lot of bending down, the term “balsam back ” was coined after the session.
It’s all for the good cause of biodiversity!!!
Temporary or ephemeral ponds add an interesting dimension to any natural space that can sustain them. Their temporary nature means that they are often devoid of fish, other predators and competitors which might be present in more permanent ponds, thus a unique habitat is created for distinctive plants and insects which are specially adapted to these conditions. Stourbridge Common being a flooplain is perfectly suited to sustaining this type of habitat therefore four more pools were dug recently. Wetter areas were chosen for these pools in the hope that when the water table is high these depressions will hold water for long enough to encourage a flush of life, insect species but hopefully natal amphibians life too.
Work has been happening at two of our reserves to kick start our meadow areas for summer. Both Bramblefields reserve in Chesterton and Byron’s Pool in Trumpington have had a large area of top soil removed in the grassland areas. Although it can look a little extreme at first but the end result will be worth it. By removing the top layer which already has a well established seed bank for nettles, docks, brambles and the tougher grasses it gives a window of opportunity to try and establish a more diverse suite of vegetation which includes many of our beautiful native wildflowers which find it hard to compete.
Hopefully this summer these areas will be full of colour and nectar, appreciated by humans and invertebrates alike!
Byron’s pool reserve is to gain a new pond or rather re-instate an old forgotten pond. Retrospective land surveys of the reserve had always shown the presence of a pond but over time and with much bramble growth and fallen trees it had become very hard to know if this was still the case. This week a team of tree surgeons undertook a massive clearance of the area and discovered that the old pond did in fact exist and was still holding some water. This fantastic discovery is most welcome news. The pond will be re-profiled and the area cleared a little more and hopefully by this spring it can be restored to it’s former glory and then some!