Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Hilgay - Almost There

Nick Carter, Conservation Officer (Fens)

I checked the water level in the Hilgay lagoon yesterday and found it had risen to 11.57 (i.e. 1.57m above sea level) an increase of 7cm from the previous week. This means there is only 2cm to go to reach the target level of 11.59. With yesterday evening’s rainfall and more forecast for Thursday I am confident that we will reach the target very soon. The lagoon is now almost completely flooded with just a short stretch of the central island sticking out of the water.

The higher water levels have attracted a greater diversity of duck with wigeon, gadwall and shelduck joining the mallard and teal that have been around all winter. Diving ducks have also been in evidence with pochard and tufted duck both being present on the lagoon, together with up to seven coot.

The objective now is to reach the required water level and hold it for at least a month while the embankment is checked for stability. Over the summer water will be let out to keep the rest of the site wet for as long as possible.  In November abstraction from the river can start again to re-fill the lagoon, keep the internal ditch network topped up and flood the fields which will be turned into reedbeds. This flooding will help to kill off the terrestrial vegetation and aid the spread of reeds across the site. It will take several years for the reedbeds to be completed.

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