Trip reports

RSPB field trip to Snape Wetlands and Botany Marshes. 19th April 2018

RSPB field trip to Snape Wetlands and Botany Marshes. 19th April 2018
Richard Straton

Thursday, 26 April 2018

We arrived early with two members already in conversation with Aaron Howe our leader for the morning. We introduced ourselves to Arron and he informed us that the tour would be two hours with information on the progress of the site and some history. 12 members joined us two plus three guests and at 10.0 we started the tour while Aaron was giving the introduction we were interrupted with a courtesy car pulling up with driver asking is there a toilet here they parked up and we realised that they were our members so making the total of 17.
We started our walk towards the marsh. Aaron explained the management of the grass land where Exmoor ponies are now used because the previous use of sheep and cattle had not been successful.
They have four Exmoor ponies and it seems they like dandelions, they are strong willed and won't be pushed around so to move then to other part they are encouraged with a bucket full of apples.
We continued toward a view point overlooking the marshes where the usual species of water birds were seen plus a bittern was heard. Continuing on round to the edge of the marsh we had another view from the embankment where there was badger activity seen
Species seen were mainly water birds from Great Crested Grebe to Pochard.
Cetti's warbler and Bittern were heard but not seen.
The following is some back ground information about the site.
Botany Marshes Reedbed Creation Project had the RSPB working closely with the Environment Agency to create a 49ha wetland adjacent to Abbey Farm, near Snape in Suffolk, which forms part of a larger 70ha wetland ecosystem. The Marshes at Botany Farm Project are designed to create a suitable habitat for a suite of reedbed species, including Bittern and Marsh Harrier. The wetland habitat has been created with the construction of earth embankments along the boundary with Abbey Farm reserve to maintain hydrological isolation. Water level in the new wetland is controlled by dropboard sluices set in the riverside boundary spillway embankments. A number of existing and historical features were investigated during excavation in the flood plain to create open water and optimum Bittern feeding edge. Stirling Maynard were appointed to provide civil engineering design and project management services for the scheme which involved the design and construction of over 330 metres of embankment, two water control sluices, culverts, overflow spillways, numerous shallow scrapes and watercourse for the river Alde. At the outset there had been a lot of local opposition as it was believed that flooding would occur. Turns out that by replacing a broken sluice gate this issue was eliminated.
Our thanks to Aaron for his guiding and excellent explanation of the site.
Sue Bayliss