Breeding redshank return to Roydon Common after 40 years


Monday 11 September, 2017


A new noise has joined the cacophony of bubbling curlew, drumming snipe and the ‘tooo-wips’ of lapwing this year at Roydon Common. Redshank have not bred on the reserve since the 1970s, but a pair and their chick are now in residence.

This is not the first species to return to the site after a long absence. In 2013, Tomentypnum nitens, a moss thought to be extinct in Norfolk, was re-discovered 45 years after it was last recorded.  And it’s hard to imagine now, when on an evening walk in early summer around Roydon Common, Grimston Warren and the Delft complex, up to a dozen snipe can be seen performing their magnificent drumming display flight, that they were absent from the area for 20 years until 1999.

So what has changed in the last 40 years at Roydon Common?  Quite a lot. The extensive scrub that had grown up across the mire since the 1950s was removed in the 1990s.  This re-instated the views we see across the common today, but was only the start of the mire restoration work.  The site was fenced in 2000 and conservation grazing animals have been busily munching their way through decades of rank vegetation since then – the Dartmoor ponies were joined last year by our herd of British White cattle who will cope with getting their feet wet!  

In 2015 a new project supported by the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund, began to remove tussocks of purple moor grass which have blanketed large areas of the mire, obscuring the more delicate plants underneath.  This work, alongside grazing pressure and continued scrub control by NWT staff, will see Roydon Common returned to its former open boggy glory.  And maybe a few other species on the ‘missing’ list will be rediscovered.
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