Cley & Salthouse Marshes – Warden’s Update

Since 24th December 2020, the reserve has been closed to the public. With reserve staff still able to work, some management has carried on behind the scenes, albeit less than normal years, due to volunteers unable to help during lockdown.

Reed Cutting

Some restoration cutting has been carried out at Cley, but with limited resources, smaller areas were worked on. The most noticeable for visitors will be an area alongside the boardwalk to the main hides, at the roundabout. The reed in this area hasn’t been cut for a long time, so we took advantage of a closed boardwalk to work here. Cutting this area will create a different age structure of reed in this part of the reed bed, but will also clean out some organic debris which has built up over time, allowing a better flow of water and access for reed bed species. Some debris is left, by not cutting other areas, which benefits Bearded Tits.

This stretch of boardwalk also has a good variety of plants along its edge, including Woody Nightshade, Gypsywort, Red Campion and Fox sedge. Cutting the reed will allow more light to these areas and benefit these plants. Within 6 months, the reed will re-grow and in 2-3 years the other areas can be cut, continuing the varied age structure.

Annual Winter Works

An excavator was hired in February to carry out some annual ditching work, this was done mostly around the ‘new land’. Whilst on site, the machine also improved some of the bunds and structures at Cley to enable us to control water levels better, as cattle have trodden these down, making them less effective. Within 24 hrs of doing this, the levels on Bull Marsh had risen, flooding some areas of the marsh (photo below) and attracting the large numbers of Brent Geese that use the reserve, but also hundreds of Lapwing, White-fronted Geese, Dunlin and Golden Plover.

Access- Bishops Hide Path

After the 1st lockdown, in March-June 2020, the path to Bishops hide became very overgrown. Once cut and cleared, it became very muddy over the winter months and almost impassable.

The path to the hide was already made up of hoggin, but had disappeared over time, so the path has been improved by adding more material on top of the existing path. Some wooden boarding was added along the edges to enable the path to be levelled out and allow better wheelchair access, with passing places.

Wildlife Sightings

A Great White Egret has been a regular visitor to the area and can still often be seen from the visitor centre car park, on South Pool. There have also been reports of 3 birds roosting in North Foreland woods.

There have been good sightings of winter geese again this year. A maximum of 2600 Pink Footed Geese were recorded on the reserve in January. These birds have now mostly left the Norfolk Coast, heading back to their breeding grounds in Iceland.

Amongst the Pinks, there have been a maximum number of 92 White Fronted Geese (Picture below) and a several Bean Geese.

Land Acquisition

Norfolk Wildlife Trust have recently purchased a small parcel of wet grassland at Kelling, which will be added and managed as part of the ‘Cley & Salthouse’ reserve. There are plans to stock fence the boundary in the near future and carry out some improvement works on the marsh to better accommodate breeding waders and overwintering wildfowl.

Thanks to anyone who has been able to submit any records and to David and Pat Wileman for collating them.

George Baldock – Cley & Salthouse Reserve Warden