A beautiful spring-like morning greeted the twenty-plus volunteers who turned out for the second reed cutting and burning session of the winter at South Milton Ley today. With Rory Sanders driving the reed-cutting machine and ably coordinated by Nick Townsend, the team of Devon Birds’ members, local birders and residents from South Milton and the surrounding area, was able to cut, clear and burn around 7,000 square metres of reed bed in about three hours.
With a relatively high average age, the volunteers were in agreement that spreading the cutting over two sessions made the process more enjoyable and less physically demanding than in previous years. It also enabled a larger total area to be cleared, which fully meets the requirements of the management plan agreed with Natural England for the reserve.
Mowing sections of the reed bed on rotation helps to rejuvenate it by preventing the accumulation of plant debris. If not managed, this can accelerate the drying out of the marsh and encourage colonisation by willow, alder and other trees. Cut sectors are always adjacent to established stands of mature reeds to ensure rapid recolonization of the new growth by invertebrates from the surrounding areas. In the short term, this minimises the impact on the birds breeding and feeding in the reed bed and, in the longer term, produces a diverse mosaic of healthy reeds.
Devon Birds extends its thanks to all those who took part.