Thursday, 5 April 2012

Wetlands & Wildlife

At our recent meeting, Rob Allen gave a fascinating illustrated talk: Wetland Conservation & Creation

Rob is the southern reserves officer for Worcs WT and, as such, is responsible for 20 nature reserves between Upton upon Severn and Broadway including the Gwen Finch, Hill Court Farm and John Bennett wetland reserves (not all open to the public).

Wetlands provide some of the best wildlife spectacles such as huge flocks of starlings and skeins of geese.  They're defined as the interface between open water and dry land, an example of an ecotone which attracts so many different species and makes it a magnet for naturalists. This interface is constantly changing, not only through the seasons but as rainfall trends increase and decrease. The shallow warm waters support invertebrates, the bottom of the food chain. Rob described the key species of wetlands: otter, water vole, lapwing, snipe and warblers (Cettis, reed, sedge and marsh).

Our landscape has been shaped by watercourses and wetlands and settlements have developed along them. Highly productive between floods, they've been a source of food and building materials through the ages. They've also been subject to many threats including housing, agriculture and fertiliser run-off, dredging, canalisation and climate change. In addition, over 70 invasive species have been identified by DEFRA including Himalayan balsam, mink and signal crayfish.

Gwen Finch Wetland (near Pershore)
The Wildlife Trusts' initiative, Living Landscapes, recognises that wildlife reserves need to be linked through the wider countryside. The development of this concept requires communication and co-operation with land owners. On the River Avon this has led to the conversion of agricultural land at Birlingham (near Pershore) into the John Bennett wetland reserve which comprises 22 ha of wet grassland and 4 ha of reedbeds and open water. In this way, a chain of “stepping stones” is being created along the river to bring increased wildlife back to the Avon valley.

The next indoor meeting of the Malvern local group will be held on Thursday 3rd May when wildlife photographer Iain Green will give an illustrated talk entitled On the wild side: from Downing Street to our local high street. The meeting starts at 7.30 pm at the Chase Academy Sixth Form Annexe, Geraldine Close, Barnards Green WR14 3PF - we're looking forward to seeing you there.

Derek, Malvern local group

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