Gazen Salts - Sandwich

Projects

The Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is an exciting site as there are often ways to improve places for wildlife to live and enjoyment for visitors. Funding is in short supply at the moment for all charities but we are working hard to ensure Gazen continues to thrive. 
2019

The Gazen Salts Hedgehogs

In May 2021, Gazen Salts Nature Reserve welcomed its first hedgehogs – a welcome development made possible by Hedgehog Rescue Deal, whose Stan Brittain also built and donated nest boxes for the new arrivals. And they have adapted to the Reserve far more quickly than anyone thought.

Hedgehogs have been around long before humans walked on the earth but have changed little over the past 15 million years. In 1566, a bounty of tuppence was placed on hedgehogs by Parliament allowing farmers to kill them because it was believed they fed on the teats of recumbent cows. This move led to the deaths of an estimated half a million hedgehogs by 1800. Fortunately, such myths no longer delude us. Yet, sadly, hedgehog numbers are now in serious decline. In 2020, the British hedgehog was placed on the Red List for British Mammals, classified as vulnerable to extinction.

During the day of the Gazen hedgehogs’ introduction, a team of volunteers with three wardens sited nest boxes and feeding stations into select hidden areas. The spots were chosen to be above flood level and well away from areas of ground-nesting birds. In the evening four hedgehogs - two males, and two females - were released.
It was originally planned to replenish the feeding stations up until the end of June. However, by the end of the week it was pleasing to discover that the hoggies had returned to the wild far more quickly than anticipated.

Hedgehogs are invaluable for maintaining a heathy, balanced natural environment. It is hoped that a viable population of hedgehogs will soon be flourishing in the Gazen Salts Nature Reserve.
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2019

Water Vole Conservation

An endangered species, Water voles breed at Gazen and it is a continuing programme to make areas as suitable as possible for them. It is aimed to compliment the work of other conservation organisations to protect and create suitable habitats and provide protection from predators. Water levels play a key role, high enough to ensure voles can move unseen by predators underwater but not so high that tunnels flood.

 Changing weather patterns of flood and drought are important to address. To this end we are currently seeking funding to provide much better places for water voles to thrive. In conjunction with our wildflower planting programme many species of water voles favourite food plants are being introduced.
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2019

Wetland Habitats

Most of the waterways are brackish, a mix of fresh and salty water from the River Stour estuary fed in to the reserve by a sluice gate. When managing water levels it is aimed to hold as much fresh rain water as possible and limit the amount of brackish water introduced. This keeps the salt content lower allowing more species of water life to live in the ditches, lake and ponds. 

Reedbeds are another important feature of the wetland habitats. Most of these are small areas, or verges at the edges of ditches. The largest area of reedbed on the reserve runs a long the edge of the River Stour, an area which is secluded to provide undisturbed nesting and roosting sites. 

These areas are planned to undergo extensive improvements over the next 3-5 years as soon as funds can be raised. Clearing silt from waterways, improving water management, clearing scrub and improving the variety of plant life and habitats.
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2019

Woodland Habitats

As trees are largely of a similar age management focuses on providing a range of sizes, shapes and variety of species so that as many species of wildlife can live in these areas. Improving nesting sites for birds by planting new hedgerows and restoring existing ones is a key aim in coming years. Many of the original hedges were planted very close to foot paths, the constant trimming to of these to keep paths accessible has left limited nesting areas. The new hedges will be planted away from paths, providing a wide hedge where dense growth to thrive. All hedges planted are made up of a variety of native species which also provide plenty of berries and roosting site for the winter.

As some of the existing hedges have grown older gaps emerge and weed species can dominate. Work is planned of these to fill gaps and remove those self-sown species of lesser wildlife value. Woodland plant life will also be greatly improved in conjunction with our wild flower planting programme.
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2019

Wildflower Planting Programme

A great many different kinds of wildflowers are introduced to Gazen each year. This programme adds wildlife value to all types of habitats and adds great interest for visitors. As a man-made nature reserve it gives far more opportunities to speed up the variety of plant life present without harming the natural flora. 

This is done by using seed collected from the reserve or buying British seed or plug plants. With the help of volunteers many hundreds of plants are introduced annually. The main features of this programme are to increase the profusion of springtime plants such as primroses, bluebells and wood anemones. Wetland verges respond extremely well planting on the edge of waterways and in the many very damp areas on the heavy clay soil.
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