Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to scythe a reedbed

 First get your scythes set up, then spread out and get stuck in. Luckily there was plenty of room to keep out of each other's way. We all agreed that this is by far the best time to cut reeds and we won't be doing it before Christmas again. But with the flooding it only leaves us with a very small window to tackle it before the birds start nesting. As it was the ducks were a bit put out but, as we had created a network of channels for them, I think the effect will be to their benefit once we were out of the way.
Cutting the reeds is really just the easy bit. All the wire netting that was put in to protect the young reed seedlings from grazing by geese  has to be removed as well and that is a lot harder than putting it in once the reeds and willows have grown through  it. Then the posts have to be pulled out and they have sunk into layers mud, if you are lucky they have rotted and break off at ground level; if not, it is a long process of pushing and pulling to loosen them.
 Harry is new to scything but looks to be a natural
 It was far too windy to set light to anything today so the piles of reeds will be left for grass snakes and a handy resting place for Colin after battling with too much wire netting and being blown across the site with piles of reeds on a hayfork. The load of reed acted like a sail so you had to tack across the site to get to the pile as if you were on a dinghy.
 The grass snakes are going to have a variety of piles to choose from as Dan made another one out of the pulverised reeds that we had left from our previous scything before the floods arrived. They had obviously been pounded by the water and formed into mats of reed debris that would have made good bedding for pets.
Now we will leave the place in peace and quiet and hope that the reed warblers and sedge warblers will be back soon. The reed buntings have been here all winter so will hopefully be scouting for nesting sites fairly soon.

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