The reedbed habitat

The reedbed habitat picture

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Reeds are not the only plants that grow in reedbeds. One plant that is a bit like a reed is Reedmace (sometimes called bullrush) which grows tall like the reed, but has a big seed head shaped like a mace, which gives it its name. In the summer these seed heads are dense and hard, but by winter time they become fluffy and the seeds blow away in the wind. Birds like Bearded Tits love to eat the Reedmace seed in the winter. There are two sorts: Lesser Reedmace is a bit smaller and hass thinner seed heads, Greater Reedmace is a bit taller and has really big seed heads.

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You can find lots of flowers in the reedbeds too. In the wetter areas you can oftens see the yellow Flag Iris, and around the edges of the reedbed you will find plants like Hemp Agrimony and Purple Loosestrife. Both of these plants have lots of little flowers, and are really good for nectar-feeding insects like butterflies.

In drier places, especially at the edge of the reedbeds, there are water-loving trees like willow and alder. Willow thrives in wet conditions and will grow in places that are much too damp for other trees. As the trees grow, they cause the reedbed around them to dry out and gradually it becomes dry enough for other species like hawthorn and blackthorn to move in. Trees make good nesting places, but they also provide perches where crows and birds of prey can sit and watch the reeds looking for smaller birds to eat.