Ecology and conservation of breeding Black-tailed Godwits in the UK

The Black-tailed Godwit is a large, elegant wading bird that once commonly bred in eastern England, but is now largely restricted to the Nene and Ouse Washes. In this article, the authors discuss the ecology of breeding Black-tailed Godwits in the UK and describe the conservation interventions that have been trailed to reduce predation pressures and

Norfolk Hawker and Water Soldier – a dilemma for conservation?

The endangered Norfolk Hawker thrives in areas with good cover of Water Soldier, an aquatic perennial that provides a rich source of invertebrate prey for the dragonfly’s larvae. Water Soldier can cause problems outside its native range, however, which means that efforts to expand populations of Norfolk Hawker can conflict with other management objectives. Steve

Classic Wildlife Sites: The Wash

The Wash is perhaps the most important estuarine system in the whole of the British Isles. Its vast expanse of mudflats and saltmarshes attract huge numbers of waders and wildfowl, while the surrounding dunes and beaches provide a haven for numerous other species of interest. Will Brown provides an overview of the history and ecological significance

The Cranes of Lakenheath Fen

The RSPB created Lakenheath Fen almost 20 years ago, converting a large area of former farmland in to reedbeds with the aim of attracting breeding Bitterns. Unexpectedly, Common Cranes also arrived, and they have bred there for the past ten years. Norman Sills shares his experiences of the breeding behaviour and requirements of the Lakenheath

Reserve Focus: WWT Steart Marshes, Somerset

Creating and managing habitats is no easy task, yet the environmental benefits of wetlands and marshes are far-reaching. Andrew Branson explores the Steart Marshes and its wildlife. Somerset is a big county with many quiet corners. I like to think of it as a giant bowl encircled by a rim of hills – the Mendips in

The botanical importance of the Insh Marshes, a floodplain swamp in northern Scotland

The Insh Marshers on Speyside, Easterness, form one of the largest and most northerly floodplain fens in Britain. The general wildlife interest of the marshes was summarised some years ago in British Wildlife (Gibbons 1993). The present author concentrates on the vascular plants of the site, providing more detail on these and an update on their status. 

Reserve focus: Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve

A serendipitous combination of a shifting landscape 10,000 years in the making, traditional peat-workings and modern-day conservation management has resulted in Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve (NNR). It hosts a mosaic of large reedbeds, open water, wet woodland, fen and lowland raised mire, teeming with a unique blend of wetland wildlife. Owned and managed by

Wallasea: a wetland designed for the future

The RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project (hereafter ‘Wallasea’), in Essex, will be by far the largest (670ha) coastal wetland ever constructed in Britain. Its design includes a range of features aimed at providing valuable habitat for wildlife, both now and under a range of future sea levels and climatic conditions. In this article, the

The Great Fen – the challenges of creating a wild landscape in lowland England

In 2007, I outlined in British Wildlife the creation of one of Britain's first landscape-scale projects – the Great Fen, in Cambridgeshire (Bowley 2007). This was originally intended to link two national nature reserves, and to achieve better management of flood water, but the objectives of the project soon expanded to include social, cultural and local-community benefits. 

Reserve Focus: Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve, Hampshire

There are parts of the British Landscape that seem to act as lodestones for the natural world, areas that for some reason appear to be hard-wired into the collective memory of migrating birds. Recently, while walking along one of the paths at Farlington Marshes, I was greeted by the sight of a swirling flock of

Common Crane habitats in Britain

There are few more spectacular and elegant birds in Europe than the Common Crane Grus grus, no more so than when they flock and are engaged in courtship dancing and bugling. Luckily, after the species' absence from Britain of around 400 years, opportunities for such observations are becoming more frequent. 

Classic Wildlife Site: Parsonage Moor and Cothill Fen, Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is blessed with a nationally significant concentration of species-rich valley fens that support an outstanding flora and fauna. Within sight of Oxford's spires lies a remarkable diversity of habitats, including the kaleidoscope Pixey and Yarnton Meads, and the word-famous Wytham Woods and Port Meadow. 

From carrots to cranes: the creation of RSPB Lakenheath Fen, Suffolk

Twenty years ago, RSPB began an ambitious programme of habitat creation and restoration on a scale larger than anything previously considered by conservation organisations in the UK. One such pioneering project was the creation of 200ha of wetland from arable land at Lakenheath Fen, on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. 

The Fen Orchid – a species on the brink

The Fen Orchid Liparis loeselii is one of the most threatened plants in northern Europe. It is high up on the IUCN threat list for every country in its range and is legally protected in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. 

Predation of breeding waders on lowland wet grassland – is it a problem?

Breeding populations of most wader species of lowland wet grassland have declinsed dramatically in the wider countryside (Henderson et al. 2002; Stanbury et al. 2000; Wilson et al. 2005), and their plight has long been of concern to conservationists in Britain and elsewhere in western Europe. 

Boom or bust – a sustainable future for reedbeds and Bitterns?

This article brings together the latest information on the state and future of the UK Bittern Botaurus stellaris population. It also highlights the pressures facing the Suffolk coast and the implications this has for the UK Bittern population. It identifies the need to bring conservation organisations and landowners together in order to secure a sustainable future for

Reserve Focus: Greywell Moors, Hampshire

If you drive through the Hampshire countryside between Basingstoke and the urban complex of Aldershot and Farnborough, you would be forgiven for thinking that it consists mostly of large, arable estates with a scattering of well-fenced woodlands. 

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