Most of this Wildlife Reserve is a cattle-grazed flood meadow with scraped hollows and a large pond of permanent water. A planted open woodland strip follows the western edge while the east boundary is marked by dense scrub. The north boundary is the River Garnock. It has a flowery flood-prevention embankment along the top of which is a grass path that enables pedestrian access.
Garnock Floods sits within an extensive semi-natural area comprising wetlands, salt marsh, mudflats and a wide range of sand-based habitats. Birds and other mobile species benefit from being able to travel around this ecological unit.
The site used to attract hundreds of wading birds in the autumn and winter when there was plenty of exposed mud. More recently, deep flood water covered the mud for long periods, denying the birds a meal and reducing the spectacle. It also discouraged the cows from grazing the rushes, allowing this plant to take over better habitat and potential bare ground. The resultant vegetation cover was a dense, impenetrable monoculture of rush tussocks with limited value for birds.
Through Garnock Connections, we installed a water control system that allows us to divert it away from the ponds when the waders need mud but send it into them at other times to create that mud in the first place. Less flood water and the new fence will also allow the cows to eat and trample the rushes which - along with annually cutting them - will greatly reduce their effect on the habitats. The work was funded by the European Communities Life+ programme.
Did you know?
The teal is our smallest British native duck. The collective noun for a group of them is a “spring” because of the way the they take off vertically when disturbed.