Through support from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) a variety of new scrapes are being created at Parc Slip Nature Reserve.
Scrapes are shallow depressions with gently sloping edges, which seasonally hold water. They create obvious in-field wet features that are very attractive to wildlife. They support a wide variety of invertebrates and can provide important feeding areas for breeding wading birds and their chicks. Creating new scrapes, and other wet features is a great way of enhancing damp grassland for wildlife. They support a wide variety of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial invertebrates, such as beetles, bugs and molluscs, some of which can be rare and of conservation importance. Research has shown that wet features can provide very important feeding areas for breeding wading birds such as Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), Redshanks (Tringa totanus) and their chicks, which find lots of invertebrate food in and around the wet muddy edges. Other birds that could be attracted to these insect rich areas are yellow wagtails (Motacilla flava) and Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula).
Hopefully the scrapes will help attract a more diverse bird population to Parc Slip, and add to the already impressive list of bird species that already inhabit there, including Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Water Rail (Rallus Aqauticus), and the Lapwing, which has become an iconic species at the reserve, management of the Lapwing breeding field is going well with work parties making progress at cutting the Willow (Salix sp) on the perimeter of the field, these trees act as a refuge for predators that will take the vulnerable Lapwing chicks. The trees that were cut were woven into an impressive dead hedge.
Highland cattle are going to be our new management tool for the lapwing field, grazing the vegetation back and keeping it down throughout the breeding season, they will also create mini scrapes (poached areas) these will attract invertebrates which lapwings depend on for their hungry chicks. The cattle are hopefully going to be on site early spring 2014.
We have also been busy behind the scenes trying to secure funding for a new raised bird hide that will overlook the new scrapes, look out for updates here.