Despite the number of ringers operating at the site during its peak, little regular maintenance of the ringing rides was done and the infrastructure gradually deteriorated over time, with rotten boards in the reedbed rides, short and rotten guy ropes and a selection of old and unreliable bamboo poles. Since gaining my C Permit in July 2014 and inheriting the role of “ringer in charge” I have made gradual improvements (with financial assistance from Devon Birds). Net rides have been widened, new boards laid, wider and stronger bridges installed across ditches and the bamboo poles have all been replaced with galvanised steel ones. An annoying tree stump in the middle of one of the net rides was chipped away week by week until it reached ground level.

The combination of alternating warm and wet weather during the summer of 2017 resulted in exceptionally vigorous plant growth in the reserve and the purchase of a budget rechargeable hedge trimmer proved a lifesaver, enabling almost 80 metres of net ride to be cleared on a single charge.

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Marsh Ride in July 2015 with the old boards completely buried.

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The bridge to Marsh Ride in January 2016 now covered in non-slip chicken wire.

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The sturdy new bridge to Telegraph ride in January 2016, replacing the previous single, rotten board to the right!

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Marsh Ride in March 2016 with the previously submerged boards re-laid and secured in place.

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Marsh Ride in May 2017 showing just two weeks’ plant growth.

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Marsh Ride in July 2017 with the width doubled, new boards laid and new, steel mist net poles.

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Bird bags hanging from repurposed TV aerials!