A pleasant, dry morning with a gentle breeze down the valley greeted the thirty-plus volunteers who turned out for the first reed cutting and burning session of the winter at South Milton Ley today. With such a good turnout, including a few welcome new faces, the team of Devon Birds’ members, local birders and residents from South Milton parish and the surrounding area, was able to cut, clear and burn almost 6,000 square metres of reedbed in about three hours. With cutters, stackers and pyrotechnics ably coordinated by Nick Townsend and Vic Tucker and relatively firm ground underfoot the work was completed surprisingly quickly with only the last few bonfires requiring attention in the early afternoon.
Mowing sections of the reedbed on rotation rejuvenates 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 reedbed and, in the longer term, produces a diverse mosaic of healthy reeds.
Devon Birds extends its thanks to all those who took part in what was an enjoyable and sociable event today and invites even more of you to come along for the second cut starting at 09:30 on Sunday 3rd February 2019.