Where the Buffalo Roam

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 13 May 2014 20:34

I've been to Chippenham Fen today in Cambridge to look at the effects that Water Buffalo have had on the fen there over the last decade or so. I was really impressed at how at home they seemed and you can really see the accumulative effect of their grazing in the following photo. The left side has been left ungrazed while the right hand side gets a short amount of light summer grazing. The difference is striking, the left has dense Saw-sedge and lots of hung up litter but very little structural variety, the right has very little Saw-sedge (amazingly they seem to preferentially graze this) but a much more varied sward structurally and botanically. The right hand area is a hot spot for the Silver Barred moth (I was too early) while the left hand side has many rare spiders in the litter. Both communities are catered for by this sort of management.

In this area, tussocks of Black Bog-rush with Cambridge Milk-parsley have done very well with the grazing regime. In this area I found the very smart Na beetle Cerapheles terminatus.

I did manage a small amount of sieving, and in the first sieve we found several Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata (a stunning Na wolf spider I found new to Sussex at Stedham in 2012) and most excitingly, a couple of immature Marpissa radiata, a Nb species which is also a specialist of this area!

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