'Since Christmas we have slowly pumping down the lagoon next to the Meare Heath Scrape. The reason for this is because Shapwick Heath is one of a number of local reserve trial sites for a bio-fuel project being run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It is looking at ways that materials from reserves (which often are left stockpiled and to break down) for example reed, can be converted into potential green, sustainable fuel sources. The reed from Shapwick will be dried and converted into Briquettes which can then be burned in boilers/wood burners. Next week and the following week the cutting at Shapwick takes place. Cutting is likely to take place on 405 days during the 2 weeks. In all we are anticipating a maximum of 4 hectares of the lagoon will be cut. This may be less if ground conditions do not allow.
It is being done at this time of year as conditions are optimum and to minimise disturbance to breeding birds. We are very aware that Bitterns will soon start booming in earnest so want to get this completed ASAP. It may also cause some temporary displacement of some birds to other parts of the reserve or to other sites. Again this timing is to minimise this potential. The last time that this lagoon was cut it was followed by our first successful Bittern nest on the reserve. The removal of the reed will also remove some of the biomass and likely break up some of the reed rhizomes leaving open areas for feeding birds. Once the works are complete we will then allow water back into the lagoon and in the spring we plan to raise the water level again when we pump down the Scrape for the spring arrivals.'
Simon is, as ever, happy to answer any queries SOS members might have about this work. His office number is 01458 860120.