Rosemary and I, along with a few others, had a tour of the BBOWT wetlands nature reserve at Gallows Bridge. This is one wetland reserve of many they own on the Upper River Ray. Gallows Bridge has the Tetchwick Brook flowing through it which is a tributary of the Ray, joining the Ray at Three Way Meadows. Tetchwick Brook should be well known to readers of this blog, as the river (stream, ditch) over which we have a tug of war over.
The morning was misty, not ideal for photography. The warden explained the type of management the reserve received, and why. Interestingly we heard how some of the land had been ploughed years ago with a technique called ridge and furrow which causes long ridges to form in the fields which remain today and are now protected. Many of the nesting wetland birds are predated by animals, mink and fox being the main culprits. An effort is made before the breeding season to trap and kill the mink, and reduce the number of foxes in the area. The trap at this time of year contained a mud pad which was used to estimate the number of river mammals living in the area. Paw prints of Mink and Otter could be seen.
BBOWT had been creating a number of ponds and scrapes to keep water on the site over the summer season, providing feeding areas for Snipe, Lapwing and Curlew . Grass has to be managed in several ways allowing for short and long grass to suit different species of bird. The reserve is also a habitat for Short Eared Owls, Barn Owls, Hobby and Kingfishers. After the tour we stayed in the hides for a while in the hope of seeing the Kingfisher. Alas we didn’t, just saw a few LBJs.