Experiencing Drumburgh Moss

The word ‘Friday’ springs to mind many different things: summoning the willpower to get through one more work day, making plans for the weekend, working out how best to spend your wages. What isn’t immediately apparent is a trip to a lowland raised peat bog.

I spent Friday morning wading ankle deep through mud that threatened to rob me of my Wellington boots, clutching for dear life onto my camera and hoping I’d stay upright.

This was a field trip to Drumburgh Moss, an RSPB site that we’re studying as part of our module ‘Interpreting the Natural World for Media’. We have the choice whether to base our report on this site or Derwentwater.

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On arrival, we were expecting to be met by our tour guide, who would show us around the site. Instead, we were greeted by an adorable and very inquisitive Exmoor pony, who wasn’t at all alarmed by the large group of wrapped up two-leggeds that had arrived on his patch.

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Despite being buffeted by the wind, we were very lucky with the weather. Our tutor Alex told us that last year the group had endured pouring rain, so for that I was extremely grateful. The Lake District is undoubtedly beautiful, but also temperamental.

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Having visited in the winter months, there was a distinct lack of wildlife apart from the wild ponies. However, there were definitely signs of life in the bog. A sharp-eyed friend of mine spotted an adder skin in amongst the grass, the silvery ghost of its previous owner.

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I’d never been to a peat bog before, so it was interesting experiencing a new habitat. Despite not being the prettiest of environments, it is without doubt a vital part of our countryside. Peat bogs can be thousands of years old, and are capable of storing large amounts of carbon dioxide because of the mosses and lichens that thrive there. As a result, the conditions become anaerobic (without oxygen). This prevents decomposition of dead plants, so they accumulate and form peat.

The destruction of peat bogs releases all this carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing further to the already drastic effects of global warming. Therefore, it is of utmost importance than these habitats are protected.

 

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