A wet day at the swamp

Loch Lomond NNR

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Today is World Wetlands Day (more info here )  and so is a good day to celebrate how wet the mainland part of the Loch Lomond NNR (the swamp) is looking. This year is proving to be more normal at the Endrick mouth with much of the reserve going under water this winter.  The recent rain in the Loch Lomond catchment area has brought up the loch level and the river breaks it banks and water spreads out across the marshy ground. And it is this wetness that makes the site so special . During the winter these areas are great for providing feeding areas and roosting areas for a wide range of wetland birds. During the summer the waterlogged conditions allow plants specially adapted to having their feet in the water to thrive.

It is the flooding that has saved this land from being developed in the past for intensive farming as it is always too wet to grow crops or get farm machinery onto. Some people might say then that it is worthless and only good for wildlife but actually these floodlands are of benefit everyone that live in the area. By holding onto flood water and releasing it slowly they help to reduce flooding in towns and villages downstream and they can also help to clean water as it flows through the swamp system.

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But the floods always have a downside. When the water floods across the land it always brings a detritus of rubbish and plastic. Most people now seem to be aware of the problems caused by plastics in the oceans following Blue Planet 2. Even the Prime minister mentioned it in a speech. And the same issues applies to freshwater wetlands as well. Yet along the high tide of the floods on the Low Mains were 40-50 pieces of plastic, mostly plastic bottles but also drinking straws and even a couple of rugby balls (someone practicing for the 6-Nations?) but each one carelessly discarded by someone so that they end up on a nature reserve. It seems we still have a way to go to change people’s thinking about use and disposal of plastics.

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