Journey's End is just a new beggining
Our control of the water levels at Potter Brompton Carr is now pretty much complete.
With hindsight, the original idea of raising the water table in a flat, featurless area such as the Vale of Pickering seems a bit far fetched. It now seems obvious that water was never going to stay neatly stacked where we told it to, especially as the River Derwent is the Northern boundary of Potter Brompton Carr: water tables and rivers interact with each other and are all part of the same hydrological system.
Instead, we have harnessed three streams that flow through Potter Brompton Carr and have created a "river" that flows through our land and back out into the main Drainage Board ditch. This design guarantees water even in dry years, originate from springs that are fed from rainwater that has fallen on the Yorkshire Wolds over more than one years, potentially many years.
We now have a working water control system, all year round and in all weather conditions, so what next?
Well, the outstanding issue is to boost our lapwing breeding success rate.
We still don't know why the success rate is low. We have done a survey of the invertebrates that are in the soil, and initial results indicate that this is not a cause of our poor success rate.
So we are open to ideas. The most likely cause is a predator problem. A lot of crows have moved onto Potter Brompton land after Dent's outdoor pig operation at West Knapton closed down. Also, we need to control mink and other mammal predators such as stoats. To reduce the impact of raptors on the breeding lapwing, we have cut down the Screed Wood, and we have cut back the Silver Birch along the South side of the railway line. In August and September we intend to cut down any trees along the edges of the dykes, to further reduce the raptors' lookout points.
Also, despite having provided what to human eyes looks like a great environment for breeding lapwing, the number of breeding couples has actually declined over the last few years. No convincing reason is apparent for this decline, especially when the population of breeding lapwings on farms up on the Wolds seems quite healthy, despite it not being the "ideal" habitat for lapwing. I have my theories, but that is all they are and I am no expert.
So the journey goes on, and hopefully we are adding to the knowledge of how these schemes should be implemented.
On a positive note, our species list continues to grow and we feel that the project at Potter Brompton Carr contributes many things to conservation, even if its stated primary goal, the breeding of lapwing, needs further efforts.