This year has been disappointing at Feckenham Wylde Moor in terms of very low butterfly, dragonfly and damselfly numbers. We had hoped that after last summer's good conditions that everything would have done well this year. This was not to be the case. However, we did get relatively good numbers of various warblers.
The reserve has been very wet all through the summer and is now the wettest I have ever seen in all the years that we have had the reserve. I places there's up to 12" of standing water and the public footpath alongside the Mouch ditch is virtually impassable. The footbridge is under water and very difficult to cross. I have never seen this before!
The meadows are under significant surface water and this does not bode well for next spring, particularly if we get more rain. Any creatures that over-winter underground will be struggling. Plants, too, are waterlogged. However, FWM is a wetland so we hope it will manage to get back to normal...only time will tell.
We were unable to mow and bale so this has meant that the meadows have been left virtually untouched. We did manage to get a couple of days with the roving volunteers, who worked hard to cut the margins, which will make a difference. We have had up to 20 Hereford cattle on site but these are currently away for TB testing and we don't know, as yet, when they will return. They had, up to a few weeks ago, done a magnificent job in eating most of what we could not cut but we have had to be selective where and for how long they graze particular areas.
These photographs, taken on Wednesday 12 December, show the frost which always make the reserve look very picturesque.
Anyone planning to visit will struggle to negotiate the bog that, in places along the trail, is very sticky and will hold onto your wellies or even steal them from you. Our new kissing gates that have replaced some of the stiles have suffered following the heavy rains and we now have plans to try to change them or at least make them easier to negotiate. Please take extra care if visiting.
All the best for the New Year!
Paul, Feckenham Wylde Moor