The three main springs at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ Titchwell Marsh nature reserve, near the Wash in north Norfolk, have run dry. For the first time in 30 years, and possibly longer, fresh water from deep underground is not filling the ditches and reedbeds of the 40-hectare reserve known for its bitterns, water voles and marsh harriers.
“The cornerstone of the whole reserve is fresh water. So far, we have just about managed by letting less water out to sea, but if it does not rain heavily soon it will all start to go very wrong in April and May when evaporation starts. Then the water levels will reduce, impacting on fish and wildlife,” says Robert Coleman, the site’s senior manager.
If the drought continues to May, there will be fewer insects, and the breeding birds will have less to feed on, he says.
“By June the water levels will have dropped further and the wet areas will have started to dry out. By then the water voles will find it hard to get round the ditches and the moths and insects will be suffering. That will impact on the fish that feed on them and the birds, like the bitterns, which eat the fish.”
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