The reedbed at Standlake Common Nature reserve is nearly 1.0 hectare in area which makes it large enough to need some management, but not large enough for cattle or machinery to be employed. Luckily, I have some willing volunteers who seem to enjoy the opportunity for some extremely hard work. We started off with the volunteer group with scythes and wondered if we would ever make any impression on it.
Then a couple of days with the students and staff from Abindgon and Witney College helped to clear some of the heaps of cut reed. They also removed some of the fencing that had been used to prevent geese from grazing off the young reeds when the bed was first planted, several years ago. As usual the students set to with their usual sense of fun and worked really hard even when they got soaked on the second day.
Now, after another couple of session with the volunteer group the reedbed is just how I want it for the winter. As well as clearing some large blocks of reed we have cut several channels leading from the lake around blocks of reed that have been left standing. As the water level rises through the winter there will be a network of channels and bays for shelter for the ducks. Then in the spring new growth in the cleared areas will provide a different habitat for invertebrates and small animals and birds to feed and shelter. Hopefully, the volunteers will be back again to carry on the process next winter. They look like they were enjoying themselves to me, even though they gave me a lot of stick over it.