Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Sawbridgeworth Marsh in May. Andy Sapsford. Marsh Warden.

Sawbridgeworth Marsh Diary – 4th May 2008

Spring appears to be finally here after the last cold spell. The last of the winter tasks, the cutting and clearing of the sedge plots, was completed at the start of April. A large part of the sedge beds was marked out into plots in the early 1990s. Some of these are cut on a biennial basis during the early spring. This serves two purposes. Firstly, the sedgebeds are by their very nature quite species poor and are heavily dominated by Greater and Lesser Pond sedges and large stands of Greater Willowherb. By cutting these areas, open ground is exposed, which allows smaller, less competitive herbs such as Marsh Bedstraw, Ragged Robin, Lesser Water Parsnip and Skullcap to compete. Secondly, the short, wet sward is attractive to waders such as Snipe and Lapwing and may even encourage them to attempt to breed.

The marsh is beginning to turn green and a number of spring flowers can be seen in profusion. The early Lesser Celandine is joined in April by swathes of Cowslips, or Peggles as they are known in Essex. Cuckoo Flowers and Marsh Marigolds are also on display at this time of year, both in large numbers this year.

The spring flowers are proving attractive to queen bumblebees and early butterflies. Peacock and Orange Tips were on the wing this morning. The incoming migrant birds are still slow to arrive. A single Cuckoo was calling from Great Valet Homes, there are 3 male Blackcaps along the roadside hedgerow and 6 – 8 male Sedge Warblers in the uncut sedge beds. A Male Whitethroat was calling from the Osier bed at the northern end of the reserve.