Friday, 17 October 2014

The destruction of Reed beds by the CRT :-(

A very unfortunate post today as a few weeks ago I passed an area of reed beds on my local patch. The Reed beds area very special area to wildlife here along the canal and we found a few areas had been cut right back by the Canal and River Trust or there contractors Fountains. As the reeds were still green and thick plus being used by nesting water birds so I believe that should not have been done till the Winter months or if it should have been cut at all along any of the Canals but this was on the Trent and Mersey Canal from Middlewich to Northwich and we found large areas of Reed beds had been cut back but my question is had the reed beds been checked for active nests first before cutting.
I sent the email below and everything they are doing to the vegetation along the Canal goes against every thing they are promoting about caring about Wildlife and the habitat that many of the mammals and birds rely on plus some species that are protected and in need of conservation. I brought it up with them and they asked for my advice to email to there ecologist who I don't think even checked the area as they were on holiday. They have cut lots of reeds and some still had nests in and the photo above was take a week before the cut.

Here's my email informing them of there mistakes plus RSPB research into importance of reed beds on the environment and water quality.
Thank you for reading and appreciating my knowledge of the T&M Croxton Cattle bridge to past the Croxton flash. This stretch is an important area for wildlife and as I have been filming/photographing wildlife in this area for over 15 years.

I have attached a map and other photographs of the area and a recent photo of Moorhens just hatched and after the Moorhens left a coot used the nest and had begun to take reeds back to the nest.The Reed beds here are so important as Reed buntings, Sedge and Reed Warblers nest in this area as well as Cuckoos who lay there eggs in them.

 The reed beds that have been cut back are important natural trails which allow mammals and birds to move between areas without being vulnerable to predation or attack from Dogs, humans and natural predators so by cutting the reeds here you have disturbed the area meaning rarer animals such as Otters may not return to the area and head off back to the rivers where there's more cover therefore disrupting there behavior.

 When we had the breach here a few years ago the water levels were lowered to repair the bank and this meant the reeds were vulnerable and the frost got in and killed lots of the important reed beds in a few areas just past this stretch and have not totally recovered meaning less nesting sights for birds mentioned above. And as you have cut it will take years for these important areas that keep the water healthy and free of pollution which affects the fish health in the area.The smallest imbalance can have dire consequences along the chain of life.

The reeds did not need cutting back here as in the winter the heavy rain, ice and Snow cause them to die back naturally making the canal wider and more navigational without causing harm to the habitat and letting in invasive species of plant such as floating Penny wort.

   My question is why cut back reeds when the extra space on the water is not needed as there's low boat traffic until next Summer when hopefully the reeds may recover?
 This area is more important than other areas along the canal as a few miles away near Davenam. This flash had all its reeds ripped out to turn into a mooring before Spring 2014 meaning when all the reed nesting birds arrived there old nesting grounds were not available so the birds moved into the thinner sections of the reeds which have now been destroyed so when they return in March 2015 there new nesting sites are now gone. The Reed beds also provided a way for Otters to sleep and hunt in the day and move along the canal through the thick vegetation which is now gone.

One thing you may not realize is by cutting back so much you are leaving mammals (especially Otters and Badger setts) and birds very vulnerable to danger from human interference especially along the stretch from Croxton Aqueduct to Whatcroft as the canals are bordered by hunting land where people hunt legally and illegally as I have seen it going on every Autumn and Winter due to lack of vegetation but unable to get video as they are highly aggressive and unscrupulous people(poachers). Now the vegetation has been cut back more the creatures are even more vulnerable now due to CRT actions and more cut backs here will do just that!!! I have heard individuals here saying they should put paracetamols down Badgers setts or they'd shoot Otters if they see them.

 So you see why I'm upset as I am sure an Ecologist would not take on board Humans with air rifles as an effect into deciding on if its the right thing on cutting back areas where wildlife could be at risk from being shot. But that's the truth and the areas will be open for these idiots to shoot anything in the open on the opposite banks when normally wildlife would have had a little cover to escape but now it seems CRT are trying to justify there reasons for removing so much vegetation that will have dire consequences.

 Reed beds and vegetation are so important for not just nesting for Winter roosting migrant birds and Starlings which are now a Red status bird (Globally threatened )and they roosted right in that area by Croxton Canal Bridge last winter which I filmed and now there reed bed roosting spot which was out of the wind is gone which may really hurt there numbers this year. There my be reeds on the flash nearby but those reeds die back and flatten quick in the wind due to being in an unsheltered spot.

  If the Canal and River trust instruct or allow Fountains or CRT workers to cause damage or disruption to the area of habitat marked or to the wildlife in this area then I will be documenting and letting the public know of my facts and findings. I have given my advice of over 15 years of observing this important and special habitat to you, so if this is ignored it shows the CRT does not truly care as much about Nature as it says. Without these areas being left uncut and untouched the wildlife is left without a home by destroying these places you are taking homes from Nature not helping or encouraging there numbers.

 I hope that I am wrong and that the CRT do care and wish to help nature but it remains to be seen whether the CRT know that they are doing so much damage and the huge effect they are having on this important habitat which 100's of species of mammals, insects, birds and fish need to survive and thrive but any cut here will destroy that and unbalance Nature where it may never recover.

 Regarding a Coot/water bird nests in the area you cut as its a false second spring with it being warm and still summary weather the birds have been lured into nesting and having eggs chicks late. I photographed Moorhens with chicks there a week before just hatched and when they left the nest a Coot was seen taking material into the reeds where the nest was 1-2 meters from Croxton Cattle bridge about half a meter into the reeds from the canal which has been destroyed possibly with eggs in.


The reeds should have been left till they went brown as at the minute that are still being used by birds as there were still Green and growing due to the predicted warmer Autumn temperatures.

What Other work will be going on here from Middlewich at Croxton Recycling center to Whatcroft on the T&M from now till the end of March including by CRT workers and any other private contractors IE: Fountains or Plano.

I've said my bit and I hope you take my information and opinion into account as I am passionate about this


Mike Mottram

PS: I would reed this researched by the RSPB :

 As Reeds are also important for Water voles which I see you are trying to promote as it seems the CRT are losing colonies along the Shropshire and I think I understand that removal of reeds and vegetation could be impacting there survival. leaving them vulnerable to Mink as it seems if there were more reed beds and vegetation on the canals Water voles would be doing better and they would have a greater chance of survival.

One last thought "What the Canal and River Trust give with one hand they are taking away with the other" Meaning your putting up Bat boxes and bird boxes on one stretch of canal helping Nature and then ripping out so many more in the process just to make the canal a half a meter wider to allow 2 boats through at a time when there was no issues to begin with. I thought Canal boating was about patience and a slower pace of life to enjoy the scenery and WILDLIFE.

A very long and informed email to persuade them to leave a small area for wildlife to get away from people and be safe in cover.
This is what I got back after them asking for my advice when there ecologist is supposed to know and consider all the above so it seems very suspicious in my opinion.
Thanks for getting back to us in such detail.
 I’ve forwarded your email to the ecologist who deals with that particular area. I believe she’s on leave for the next week or so, but she’ll be able to respond on her return. Thank you again for taking the time to give us such a comprehensive response.
We shall see on what reply I get from The Canal and River Trusts and what there Ecologist says and as they seem to have stopped cutting in the area I advised them to leave. I shall be watching the area over the next few weeks. There workers from Fountains are currently cutting trees on the opposite canal bank just past this area but they seem to be leaving more vegetation and if they cut to much vegetation in this area they would make a Badger sett vulnerable after it has been safe and covered from any passing human interaction. Hopefully that won't be the case as over the Autumn and winter months I walk this area regularly to make sure No wildlife crimes are being committed here and lots of areas on my local patch.

  You can make your own minds up but to me it seems the Canal and River Trust are another one on the list that says it cares about the environment but I have not seen any evidence of that over the past few years.

Thank you for reading


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