Yesterday, after the greyness, fog and cold had burned off, I knew that I had to go for a walk. My attention had been brought to a place, not too far away, that might be a nice place to walk: an area of fenland that I didn’t even know existed. I must admit, I got a little lost and din’t get to the exact area I was hoping to, instead I got to another side of it. On the upside, I found a new nature reserve. On the down-side, this wasn’t where I had been aiming to go but I am an intrepid adventurer at heart and had nothing better to do with my afternoon than go for a walk.
Fens are a unique to the east midlands area of England and are characterised by their low-lying, boggy and damp appearance. Yesterday, this was exactly how I found them (!), as my Wellibobs will attest (and it got so much muddier than this!). Can you see the black earth in the field above? This is what fenlands are made of: peat. They are acidic by nature, supporting unique (and increasingly rare) ecosystems that only thrive in areas such as this. Apparently (not when I went!) you can see our only native carniverous plant, the carniverous bladderwort, living in the waterways here.
I love the bulrushes (reed mace) in the waterways, swaying gently to the wind. I find them very pleasing to the eye, with their scruffy, half-shorn appearance.
I have to give the place its dues, because it is so flat, on a good day you can see for miles. Yesterday it was a bit hazy, but I can imagine on a clear day the vista would be extensive and quite beautiful, even though it is so seldom broken by trees.
It was all very monochromatic; lots of sepia tones, greys, golds, browns and worn-out greens. No sign of the bright colours of spring or the hot colours of summer. Given the sub-zero temperatures of late, I can’t blame nature for wanting to stay in bed a little longer.
There were odd little bits of beauty on the walk. Old catkins hanging over a drain.
There was an unfortunate rotting seaweed smell, which I think was coming from the stagnant (or very slow moving) water in these little drains. Given that and my fear of being bitten by mosquitoes, I don’t think I’d want to go there in the height of summer (at least not without a few gallons of my favourite mosquito repellent!)
I found the actual fenland part of the walk a bit of a let-down. I thought I’d be going to somewhere that held a lot of unique flora and fauna, but sadly there was little of either and instead I found the walk was laid out to be identical at each turn. There were fields of grasses at each side, a very muddy walkway and a drain/dyke at the side. This was the same wherever you walked. Grasses much higher than I were obscuring the view of anything else and though I saw a hare, a red-legged partidge, a thriving family of long-tailed tits, a couple of pheasants and a lot of mosquitoes (my worst enemy), I saw all of these outside of the fenland walk; I certainly didn’t see any of the rare marsh harriers, wildfowl or flora that I had hoped I would see.
The thing that puzzled me the most was these mole hills, which were everywhere. That poor mole must either have been wearing his sub-aqua gear, or really liked wet feet, because the soil he was digging through was absolutely sodden.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. It just wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped. But I got a good four mile walk out of it and felt wobbly-legged as I made my way back to the car (which was parked a mile and a half away!). I also found this fascinating bracket fungus growing merrily.
And this is my little red-legged patridge. The photo is blurry because it was a very long way away in the distance and I didn’t have a tripod with me. But it was beautiful, flying across the field.