When I heard we were going to Jackson’s Marsh this week my first thought was that we must be mad. Back in October I wrote about my first visit to Jackson’s Marsh to cut the reeds. Despite the amazing summer we had we still spent the vast majority of our time knee deep in marsh mud. Now, after what feels like two months of constant rain, we were giving up our time, to willingly, head back there to work! The comments about needing snorkels were only half in jest.
The aim for the day was to cut back the willow and trees growing on the edge of the marsh. They can dry up the land and given a chance will encroach across it. The stumps left are treated with a herbicide to stop regrowth occurring.
To begin with I managed to dodge wading into the mud. One of the other volunteers, Paul, and I went for a walk around Jackson’s Coppice, an area of woodland opposite the marsh, to check that all the paths were clear. It’s an area noted for it’s badgers and bluebells. Plenty of holes in the earth indicate where Brock hides during the day and the ground was covered in tiny bright green shoots, bursting up through the soil. In the bottom corner we found a tree blocking the path. It tested our bow saws to the limits, at one point I thought we were going to have to call Alan and the chainsaw in, but we managed to shift the trunk and clear the path. There were also some pretty funky looking lichens growing on the tree that I had a chance to look at. We made it back to the rest of the work party just in time for our tea break – we couldn’t have planned it better!
After a snack and a drink it was time for me to brave the marsh. We were working mainly alongside the road, which on first glance looks like it is just pools of water. It was, luckily for me, not as deep as it first appeared, and I think only once did it come close to the top of my wellies (I had overtrousers on though so didn’t end up too soggy!). A few of the volunteers were tackling the larger trees so I concentrated on the smaller shoots, cutting them off, treating the stumps and burning the loose vegetation.
I was rather surprised by the insect life I saw today; almost everywhere I looked there were ladybirds! I’d expect them a bit more when the reeds have grown back but the ones I saw were right down close to the water. I know some insects are emerging from where they’ve overwintered due to the mildness of their season but I’m partially convinced that these must be a new amphibious species of ladybird!
I somehow managed to stay relatively clean despite being in a marsh; where I was working, the water washed off the majority of the mud. It wasn’t the case for the few that were using the chainsaw and pulling the larger trees from the marsh. They spent most of the day wading, and occasionally sitting, in mud.
All in all it was a pretty successful day; I saw lots of interesting things, it wasn’t as muddy or wet as I’d feared and I didn’t fall flat on my face! We managed to finish the job there today so we’re heading off to one of two reserves next week depending on what Lucy decides needs doing first. Both are reserves I haven’t visited before so I’m looking forward to a discovering somewhere new.