Fobney Island: news update, December 2004

Fobney Island: news update, December 2004

Rough grassland at Fobney Island

With the help of Reading Borough Council – many thanks to Adrian Lawson and his team in Parks & Open Spaces – work has started on Fobney Island to explore how it could be developed into a wetland reserve: reed-beds, shallow pools and wet meadow. The island is the land between the Kennett and Avon Canal and the River Kennett, just to the West of Fobney lock at SU706711. Over the next year we will be doing exploratory work to determine the most practicable ways of creating wet habitats.

In order to monitor flooding more easily and to provide surfaces that may attract gulls, waders and ducks, part of the site has been mown and some areas rotivated. We also drilled a number of holes to get a picture of the subsoil structure and will be monitoring the water table at five spots through the next year. November and December have been relatively dry and so far the water table is well below the soil surface. During this winter we also hope to plant a willow screen between the Kennett bank and the interior of the island and to install owl boxes on the South bank of the river.

Surface clearance at Fobney Island

It is important to start now building up a database of the wintering, passage and breeding birds using the site, before any changes are carried out. Current wintering species include reed bunting, meadow pipit, stonechat on the rough grassland and good numbers of goldfinches, greenfinches, bullfinches in the scrub and trees along the banks. Little Egrets are seen in the area and I would expect many more wetland species when the site floods, as I am confidently informed it will, over the next month or so.

We need help in building up records of all bird species so do please visit and keep a note of what you see. Help is also wanted to monitor other fauna and the flora of the site. If you can help, please contact me or send in your records.

Try the walk along the Canal bank that takes you on from Fobney through wet meadowland on to the gravel pits at Burghfield and Theale, with the Cunning Man pub conveniently placed for refreshment. There is a car park at Fobney Lock, but beware! It is subject to a lot of vandalism; I often park by the roundabout on the A33 (SU712714) and take the footpath along the river.

Renton Righelato

Hon. Secretary, Reading Ornithological Club

63 Hamilton Road, Reading, RG1 5RA

tel 0787 981 2564

Renton Righelato –

4 January 2005