Biodiversity and catchment management

Fowlmere Wetland Management Project

Fowlmere Nature Reserve © Doug Radford
Date: 
December 2014

Cost: £5,400 (25% of which was a grant by Cambridge Water)

Description: Fowlmere Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The reserve has a diverse range of habitats that support a rich variety of birds and other wildlife. These include the secretive water rail, the endangered turtle dove, up to 11 species of warblers, and barn owl. Non-breeding visitors include bittern, marsh harrier, bearded tit, and kingfisher. Part of the reserve is leased from Cambridge Water, including several small reed beds.

Project Description: Cambridge Water supported the hire of an excavator to remove reed leaf litter that has built up over decades in five small reed beds (total area 0.3ha). 10-15cm of litter was scraped off the base of the reedbeds without damaging the rhizomes beneath in December, a time of year when reeds are dormant. This will invigorate the reeds, improving their growth during the summer.

Benefits: One immediate beneficiary of the work was a grey wagtail that came down to feed on the exposed mud while the excavator was still working there. Healthy reed beds support a range of specialist birds and invertebrates. The refreshed reeds at Fowlmere Nature Reserve will hold nesting water rail, reed and sedge warblers, and reed bunting.

“The RSPB is grateful to Cambridge Water for supporting the management of such a valuable habitat as reed beds. The work will benefit specialised wildlife that depends on this habitat, and enhance the experiences of the many visitors to the reserve.”

- Doug Radford, Site Manager, Fowlmere Nature Reserve

“We recognise the local importance of the Fowlmere site and are delighted to support this important ecological management of the reserve. Ensuring land we own is managed to enhance biodiversity, and working in partnership sits at the heart of our approach delivering environmental improvements”.

- Daniel Clark, Environment Manager, Cambridge Water

Fowlmere Wetlands © Doug Radford

Photos used with the kind permission of Doug Radford.