Webbs Fen, named after its former owner Mr John Webb, was purchased by LOHP in January 2011. The 5.7 hectare site is is a key link in the heart of the most important area of the Little Ouse Valley Fens for wildlife. It lies between the two remaining fragments of Thelnetham Fen, which are part of the Waveney and Little Ouse Valley Fens Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It also adjoins LOHP Bleyswycks Bank and Parkers Piece sites and is on the opposite side of the river from LOHP's Blo'Norton Fen, which is also part of the SAC.
Webbs Fen in May 2012
Although formerly part of the Thelnetham Fen complex, Webbs Fen was drained in the 19th Century and converted to arable in the 20th Century. It was reseeded with grass in 1990s and in recent years has been left largely unmanaged. Although it has recovered some value for wildlife, sensitive and long-term restoration management is required to restore the locally, nationally and internationally important features of the adjacent sites.
The return of Webb's land to management designed to benefit wetland species will achieve far more than just the restoration of another of the valley's formerly rich wetlands. It will provide enormous benefits to the long-term sustainability of the populations of rare plants and animals in the surrounding, internationally important sites. Other beneficiaries will be more mobile species, such as bats and otters, which require continuity of favourable habitat.
To allow restoration of the site it has been fenced to allow stock grazing which will initially be supplemented by mowing (and removal of hay) to reduce the fertility of the grassland. This will create conditions in which a higher diversity of fen species can re-establish. A small plantation of non-native poplars was removed in 2011 to restore the open character of the site. It has been replaced by a shallow scrape that allows species dependent on wetter conditions to re-establish. The arisings from this have been used to infill parts of the internal ditch system and reduce summer water loss from the area.
Access to Webbs Fen is along the river bank path - from Bleysywcks Bank to the west or Thelnetham Old Fen to the east. An interpretative sculpture, which also doubles up as a very comfortable viewing bench, is located near the footbridge into Thelnetham Fen. This site is rapidly becoming important for wading birds, such as snipe and lapwing, that feed and nest on the wet ground. It is also a regular feeding ground for barn owls. Because of this we ask visitors to help keep disturbance to a minimum. Please view the site from the river bank path, or from the Angles Way to the south side of site, and keep dogs under very close control.