Friday, 27 March 2015

lowlands



Just a few miles down the road from us lies Holme Fen, a National Nature Reserve, which at 2.75m/9ft below sea level is the lowest point in Great Britain.
A few hundred years ago it stood on the edge of Whittlesea Mere, at that time the largest lake in Southern England, but in the 17th century drainage of the fens began, creating the rich fertile soil known as 'black gold' for which the fens are famous but at the same time destroying the livelihood of the local fen folk who depended on the watery landscape for fish and wildfowl.
Drainage of the fens meant that 99% of the rich habitat was lost and with it many rare species of wildlife and plant-life.
And now even the 'black gold' is disappearing as each year the peat continues to shrink.


In 1851,the tall metal post in the photo above was driven into the ground level with the surface as a means of measuring how much the ground was shrinking.
It is sobering to see exactly how much the peat has eroded in that time.
 Now, however, Holme Fen, just one of 4 remaining fragments of ancient wild fen, is part of a very exciting project to restore a large area to the original wetland.
The project, known as The Great Fen, is one of the largest projects of its kind in Europe.
 and has a fascinating website full of information, facts, figures and history.



Last week, mr digandweed and I paid one of our frequent visits to Holme Fen.
It is a wonderful place, wild and peaceful.
A place where you can walk for miles and hear only the wind rustling the reeds or the sound of birdsong in the trees and bushes.
As part of the restoration process, areas are gradually being allowed to become wetland again. Look -out points have been built for visitors to enjoy the bird life which is slowly returning.



The area is still criss crossed by dykes, their edges fringed with reeds.


 On Burnham's mere, a shallow lake in the middle of the reserve, we saw large colonies of Cormorant nesting on the islands. Unfortunately, too far away to photograph with my camera.



And hearing a rustling in the undergrowth nearby we turned just in time to catch a glimpse of a fluffy white tail as a Muntjac disappeared into the bushes.

It was a wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday morning.


4 comments:

  1. What a great trip out, lovely to catch some of the wildlife.

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  2. What a wonderful place. As you say, it's very sobering to see how much the land has shrunk, but it's wonderful that it will be returned to wetland, it will be wonderful for birdlife. CJ xx

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  3. What a great place to visit, you have some lovely shots x

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  4. Looks an amazing part of the country and I can understand why you're frequent visitors. Good to hear the birds are returning.

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