Guide East Devon residents coronavirus update - 19 March 2021

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11. Wild East Devon update

A combination of large increases in visitors taking their daily exercise at Seaton Wetlands and a particularly wet late winter, has meant that some of the grass paths around the site have become very muddy and looking rather unloved. The team are keeping a close eye on things to improve conditions, sections have been temporarily shut and this recent dry period has helped no end!

Flash flooding on the Stafford Brook seems to be on the increase during the winter and the brook has burst its banks on two occasions since October, causing damage to paths, washing out steps, dumping volumes of silt and sand in the ditches nearby as well as adding freshwater into the brackish lagoon of Black Hole Marsh. Last week saw a contractor carry out work to repair the brook bank making it higher on the Stafford Marsh side than Colyford Common side so any future flooding incidents should theoretically wash over into the common where damage is far less severe. The ditches were also recut to remove the flood-borne material and these ditches are now flowing freely once again. Not only has this created new ditch edge habitat for our ever-growing population of water voles to take advantage of, but these ditches are part of the water system supplying the reedbeds and dipping ponds at Stafford Marsh and so getting them working correctly again means water levels can be maintained to a higher degree of control than before.

While we’ve been without our team of fantastic volunteers at the wetlands since January due to the pandemic, the staff team are working as hard as possible to keep the reserve looking as good as we can. Jobs have included breaking through the ice in the cold snap last month to repair the island on Black Hole Marsh. We surfaced with gravel and ballast and reinforced the edges with new planks of wood, ferrying all materials across the marsh via boat. Plenty of ditch work has happened near the Stafford Brook, and new chicken wire has decreased the risk of slips at the Lookout. Boardwalks continue to be replaces across the reserve, including one major slip near the Reed Base. The hedge along the path near Black Hole Marsh has had a haircut, while Ranger Dave has recently sourced plenty of reeds for the re-thatching job of the shelter at Stafford Marsh – a great job for the volunteer group when they can return.

Finally visitors to the wetlands over the next few months may notice more activity on the south side of Colyford Common… We’re pleased to announce that construction on a Tram Halt is due to start at Swan’s Nest Loop from the end of this month. Cementing our partnership with Seaton Tramway to create a permanent stop for trams, the work is due to finish between 27 May and 7 June, depending on conditions. We’re working on new interpretation for visitors entering from and will hope to have that installed for the opening of the halt. Exciting news!

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