It’s been a busy year with lots of exciting visitors; osprey, glossy ibis, garganey and bittern to name but a few. The reserve is also lucky to still be home to lots of exciting regulars too, there aren’t many reserves where hearing and seeing cetti’s warbler, water rail and kingfisher becomes the norm.
The vegetation of Fishlake Meadows has also been amazing this year. This could be down to a very dry summer last year and this year. The dry weather was likely at least partly the reason for a couple of unexpected flowers appearing this year. During the condition habitat assessment we found changing forget me not, typically a species of “very dry habitats” which isn’t how I would describe Fishlake Meadows. Another surprise was spotting a pyramidal orchid while strimming the electric fence line in Ashley Meadow. Again, typically a species of dry habitats and usually found on chalk, it will be interesting to see if either of these appear again in the summer of 2020.
The more commonly seen flower species were also fantastic at Fishlake Meadows this year, the array of umbellifer’s in particular was amazing, and a wonderful source of nectar for invertebrates. I was able to get many photos of them alive with insects, the photo below is wild angelica proving very popular with common soldier beetles, a hoverfly and a wasp.
Other umbellifer’s that were In flower this summer were meadowsweet, common valerian and hemlock water dropwort.
The volunteers have been wonderful again this year, wardens visit the reserve daily to help keep visitors up to date, litter pick, trim back vegetation from paths and report any problems or interesting sightings. Volunteer lookers help to keep an eye on the cows while they are grazing the reserve through the summer. The locking and unlocking of the reserve car park is also solely done by volunteers. Work party volunteers are a big help with getting through the scrub cutting needed each winter. Although the very wet weather has put a bit of a hold on clearing the blocks of scrub in the reeds, as the water is now too deep to get to the willow to cut it.
The water levels are still very high around the reserve, so please be very careful to stick to the paths when visiting and wellington boots are still essential to make it to the viewing screens at the end of the permissive path (yesterday the water was up to the middle of my calf). Hopefully the weather forecasts for the next few weeks are accurate and there won’t be too much rain, giving the water levels a chance to drop.
Finally, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Fingers crossed for a 2020 full of exciting sightings and progress around Fishlake Meadows.