What you can see from the permissive path
The excavation of ponds and scrapes has created new wetlands which attract many species of duck, including Shelduck, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Teal, Mallard, Garganey, Tufted Duck, Green & Grey plovers, both species of Godwits, Snipe, Little Egrets and Grey Herons, with signs that some are now breeding for the first time for many years.
Wetlands have been restored by blocking some field drains, creating habitat attractive to Canada Geese, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Teal and a range of waterfowl and waders, plus breeding Moorhens.
Volunteer wardens have reported sightings of Water Voles and Water Shrews in the past. Otters are thought to feed in the estuary and to use the ponds on the Marsh to wash the salt out of their fur.
3 large arable fields on higher ground are managed with farmland birds in mind, with spring-sown crops and the stubble kept over winter to provide food and cover for a range of birds, mammals and invertebrates. This management regime is encouraging the spread of wild flowers typical of arable fields. Four blocks of seed-bearing plants have been planted, such as cereals, quinoa, kale, millet and sunflower to provide cover and food for birds.
Tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima) hedges have been coppiced back to encourage new growth to provide more effective shelter, and nearly 900 meters of new hedge bank have been created, planted with native shrubs, enabling visitors to walk across the Marsh unseen by birds feeding or roosting on it.
Two pastures near the estuary, 4633 & 6932 have produced some interesting botanic records with Blue Fleabane (Erigeron acer), Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis) and Dwarf Spurge (Euphorbia exigua). Grasses that thrive in wet pasture, like Tufted Hair-grass and Reed Canary-grass are now spreading within the marsh.
Wadebridge flood meadows restoration completeIn the Camel estuary upstream of Wadebridge Natural England, the Gaia Trust and the Environment Agency have realised the vision of 7-year project to restore 15 hectares of tidal floodplain. This January saw the first floods to enter Treraven meadows in over 100 years.
The fields are directly adjacent to the Camel Trail, and were previously used for hay and summer grazing. They have been allowed to flood around the tidal cycle and spring tides will now enter the fields through a series of new and existing pipes.
The aim of the project is to restore the floodplain that will allow natural habitat such as salt marsh to develop. Birdlife has already benefited from the flooding with lapwing and curlew visiting the fields immediately after the first floods.
The Gaia Trust bought Treraven Farm in 1998 and soon hatched a plan with the Environment Agency to re-flood the meadows they had bought.
After discussions with surrounding landowners the area of land extended to 25 hectares on both banks of the river. Natural England funded a feasibility study in 2003 to develop a design and gain permissions required. By autumn 2006 everything was in place to start construction.
The construction work took 12 weeks. The old creeks that have been excavated will be mud and the vegetation will turn to tidal marsh similar to the existing vegetation that you see around the outside of the banks. The new habitat will extend the habitat for local bird life, and we expect curlew, sandpipers, lapwing and possibly some migrant visitors. Lapwing breed on Bodmin Moor and are a regular visitor to the Camel estuary. If the grazing is right then lapwing could be breeding in these fields in the near future.
The opportunity for the creation of salt or tidal marsh in Cornwall is rare. This is a very exciting project that has had the support of many Camel Trail Partnership members over the years. This winter the meadows have been flooded once more. To see the meadows at their best, check your tide table and make sure there is big tide in the estuary which happens twice a month, normally first thing in the morning and in the evening 7am and 7pm. At the moment viewing these fields will be only from the Camel Trail.