Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is undertaking a 5 year project of “practical action, innovative community and business engagement and high-level strategic planning across the River Biss and its tributaries”. The project is called ABBA: A Better Biss Approach.
In our reserve, the ABBA project is creating wetland areas alongside the Lambrok, one of the Biss’s tributaries, as well as deepening the boggy patch in Lambrok Meadow, near the goat willow trees. The header picture, taken by Clive Knight, is of the digger and its operators already at work in Lambrok Meadow.
Even in this frighteningly dry summer, our stretch of the Lambrok has not dried up completely. We are not sure where this extra water is coming from but we are hoping that we can take advantage of its existence to create permanent pools of standing water alongside the stream. These will provide important habitat for wetland plants, invertebrates and amphibians as well acting as a reservoir, a hiding place for aquatic species, in future times of drought during our increasingly warm summers.
Some of the wetland species already present in the reserve
Lambrok Meadow is an old water meadow, long since drained for more modern agricultural practices. But the land has been lying fallow, it’s drainage system defunct, for so long now that the springs along the valley are re-establishing themselves and breaking through as marshy patches in the low-lying parts of the meadow. The ABBA project is enlarging one of those patches, already too soft to support the machinery used to cut the grass at haymaking time. The plan is for a pool up to a metre deep in its centre.
At the point where the unofficial footpath from Church Lane comes down the field hedge line and crosses the stream there is going to be a gravel bottomed dog dip with a stepped bank, which we hope will prove a better place for dogs to enter the water than the crumbling and eroded clay banks further upstream.
It’s all going to take two or three weeks so please be patient and we will try to keep you updated.
This is all very well but what’s to stop this dog dip pond from becoming stagnant and turning into a breeding ground for mosquitos? The non flowing pond on the river Biss behind Tescos is an example of this, even though it has plentiful plants. The previous dog dip at the further end of the same field was removed as it had become stagnant, smelly and a danger for dogs and kids.
What about the river Biss itself along Lambrok Meadow and the rest of the country park? This has become extremely silted over the years and desperately needs unclogging to return its flow allowing small fish and kingfishers to return.
The dog dip is part of the stream, with water running through it; we have just erosion-proofed the banks. The scrape in the middle of Lambrok Meadow is intended to be wetland habitat and we hope, because we have made provision for dogs to play in the stream, people will be able to keep their pets out of this area. Mosquito larvae and other water fly larvae will be a valuable source of food for the creatures we are hoping to attract. The park is a nature reserve.
There are always fish in Lambrok Stream (the Biss doesn’t run through the reserve) and we have had several reports of kingfishers in the last month or so: https://southwickcountrypark.com/2022/10/22/kingfisher-2/
Thanks for your reply and the extra information.
We are here to help. It is all too easy to assume that our visitors know exactly what we are doing when we dig holes and make mud pies. Our long term plan is to increase the reserve’s biodiversity by improving habitat while, at the same time, making sure that our fields and woods remain well-loved local amenities.