Fishlake Meadows winter works

This winter has been a particularly challenging one, heavy rain starting in September has meant much of the winter work simply couldn’t happen, at times the reserve was so flooded that it put a stop to all work. Then just as the reserve was drying out Covid-19 struck putting a stop on all remaining work parties.


Despite all that, the volunteers have worked very hard and we were still able to clear one whole block of scrub, make a strong start on another and do a lot more on the wettest block in the middle. As well as all the scrub cutting we now have some wonderful new dead hedging for birds and invertebrates. A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved with the work parties.

Other work that’s happened this winter is scrub cutting in Ashley Meadow and the Western Fen. It’s important we do some scrub cutting in these compartments each year to prevent scrub from gradually taking over these floristically richer areas. This would eventually shade out the herb layer of vegetation if allowed to grow unchecked. Some areas near the canal path have been cleared to create some variety and open up views. In one area some collapsed willow was cut back in the hope of creating views where water rail are often heard. This does seem to have worked as a couple have been seen in this area since. In the same area we coppiced some hazel and laid one shoot to see if another hazel stool can be encouraged. This is simply digging a small hole, bending a shoot over and burying the tip in the soil, then using a small “fork” of cut hazel to help keep the shoot in place. It will be interesting to see if any growth appears this year.

Buttercups in ashley meadow

Ashley Meadow in Spring

Now a brief coronavirus update relating to Fishlake Meadows; Test Valley Borough Council and ourselves (HIWWT) have taken the decision to close the car park at Fishlake Meadows. Site checks have been reduced, with me visiting a few times a week so I can keep an eye on the reserve to make sure everything is as it should be, all volunteers have been stood down for the time being. We have issued the advice that the footpaths at Fishlake Meadows don’t really allow for the 2 metre distancing and therefore it would be better to go to a wide open space for daily exercise.

I have been posting regular updates on social media, and will continue to do so through blogs too. This is a way to keep people in touch with nature while time outdoors away from home is restricted. I will make this clear, and that it is not encouragement to head to reserve personally. I would appreciate that others do the same, and if you share  your sightings on going birding, please refrain from doing so for now as not to encourage others to travel to search them out. Records can still be submitted confidentially. Keep up the hard work of staying safe and staying home.




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