A July morning, grey skies and light drizzle over Foxearth Meadows. I was standing on the boardwalk with Mark Prina, manager of the reserve, looking out over a swathe of wetland meadow; with reed and sedge beds, patches of Willowherb, Hemp agrimony, Water mint and Fleabane all about to burst into flower to fill the colour gap left by the Flag iris, which was now making seed heads. Willows had been coppiced and the new growth rose in scattered low stands. A Reed warbler was making an agitated call from a willow nearby. Sometimes these birds lie low, but on this occasion there was lots of visible activity: young birds fully fledged as well as busy adults.
Then a male Reed bunting began to circle round us. He was protecting a nest hidden in the vegetation not far from the boardwalk. As he circled, he strayed into the territory of another male and there was a brief mid-air contretemps.
We realized we were intruders too and they wanted us out of their patch. Mark has worked to manage the space to make it a good place for these birds to breed. They’ve come and now it’s their space. We are the visitors and need to walk through with respect and humility.
Written by: Andy Jowitt, A Rocha UK’s Volunteer Community Engagement Officer at Foxearth Meadows