Reed bed

Reed beds are natural habitats found in floodplains, waterlogged depressions, and estuaries. Reed beds are part of a succession from young reeds colonising open water or wet ground through a gradation of increasingly dry ground. As reed beds age, they build up a considerable litter layer that eventually rises above the water level and that ultimately provides opportunities for scrub or woodland invasion. Artificial reed beds are used to remove pollutants from grey water.[1]

Phragmites australis1
A reed bed in summer
Harchies (Belgique), roselière situées à l’ouest de la digue d'Harchies
Reed bed in winter


Reed beds vary in the species that they can support, depending upon water levels within the wetland system, climate, seasonal variations, and the nutrient status and salinity of the water. Reed swamps have 20 cm or more of surface water during the summer and often have high invertebrate and bird species use. Reed fens have water levels at or below the surface during the summer and are often more botanically complex. Reeds and similar plants do not generally grow in very acidic water; so, in these situations, reed beds are replaced by bogs and vegetation such as poor fen.

Although common reeds are characteristic of reed beds, not all vegetation dominated by this species is characteristic of reed beds. It also commonly occurs in unmanaged, damp grassland and as an understorey in certain types of damp woodland.


Most European reed beds mainly comprise Phragmites australis but also include many other tall monocotyledons adapted to growing in wet conditions – other grasses such as reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima), Canary reed-grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and small-reed (Calamagrostis species), large sedges (species of Carex, Scirpus, Schoenoplectus, Cladium and related genera), yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), reed-mace ("bulrush" – Typha species), water-plantains (Alisma species), and flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus). Many dicotyledons also occur, such as water mint (Mentha aquatica), gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus), skull-cap (Scutellaria species), touch-me-not balsam (Impatiens noli-tangere), brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) and water forget-me-nots (Myosotis species).

Many animals are adapted to living in and around reed-beds. These include mammals such as Eurasian otter, European beaver, water vole, Eurasian harvest mouse and water shrew, and birds such as great bittern, purple heron, European spoonbill, water rail (and other rails), purple gallinule, marsh harrier, various warblers (reed warbler, sedge warbler etc.), bearded reedling and reed bunting.

Reedbeach edit1
A previously sandy shore colonised by reeds forming a reed bed.


Constructed wetlands

Constructed wetlands are artificial swamps (sometimes called reed fields) using reed or other marshland plants to form part of small-scale sewage treatment systems. Water trickling through the reed bed is cleaned by microorganisms living on the root system and in the litter. These organisms utilize the sewage for growth nutrients, resulting in a clean effluent. The process is very similar to aerobic conventional sewage treatment, as the same organisms are used, except that conventional treatment systems require artificial aeration.

Treatment ponds

Harchies RN1gJPG
Reed bed of Harchies ponds Belgium

Treatment ponds are small versions of constructed wetlands which uses reed beds or other marshland plants to form an even smaller water treatment system. Similar to constructed wetlands, water trickling through the reed bed is cleaned by microorganisms living on the root system and in the litter. Treatment ponds are used for the water treatment of a single house or a small neighbourhood.

See also


  1. ^ Does Botanical Diversity in Sewage Treatment Reed Beds Enhance Invertebrate Diversity?
Bearded reedling

The bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is a small, sexually dimorphic reed-bed passerine bird. It is frequently known as the bearded tit, due to some similarities to the long-tailed tit, or the bearded parrotbill. It is the only species in the family Panuridae.

Black bittern

The black bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) is a bittern of Old World origin, breeding in tropical Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka east to China, Indonesia, and Australia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.

This is a fairly large species at 58 cm (23 in) in length, being by some margin the largest bittern in the genus Ixobrychus. Compared to related species, it has a longish neck and long yellow bill. The adult is uniformly black above, with yellow neck sides. It is whitish below, heavily streaked with brown. The juvenile is like the adult, but dark brown rather than black.

Their breeding habitat is reed beds. They nest on platforms of reeds in shrubs, or sometimes in trees. Three to five eggs are laid. They can be difficult to see, given their skulking lifestyle and reed bed habitat, but tend to fly fairly frequently when the all black upperparts makes them unmistakable.

Black bitterns feed on insects, fish, and amphibians.

Burham Marsh

Burham Marsh nature reserve is an 11 hectare tidal Reed bed on the River Medway 5 miles northwest of Maidstone. It is just east of Snodland but being on the east bank of the river it is accessed via Burham. It is part the Holborough to Wouldham Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Green Wood Centre

The Green Wood Centre in Shropshire – formerly the Green Wood Trust, which was formed in 1984 with the help of many volunteers and specialists who were concerned about the environment – is now the home of the Small Woods Association a registered charity.

Ham Wall

Ham Wall is an English wetland National Nature Reserve (NNR) situated 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) west of Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Since the last Ice Age, decomposing plants in the marshes of the Brue valley in Somerset have accumulated as deep layers of peat that were commercially exploited on a large scale in the twentieth century. Consumer demand eventually reduced, and in 1994 the landowners, Fisons, gave their old workings to what is now Natural England, who passed the management of the 260 hectares (640 acres) Ham Wall section to the RSPB.

The Ham Wall reserve was constructed originally to provide reed bed habitat for the bittern, which at the time was at a very low population level in the UK. The site is divided into several sections with independently controllable water levels, and machinery and cattle are used to maintain the quality of the reed beds. There are important breeding populations of wetland birds including the rare little bittern and great white egret, and the area hosts several other uncommon animals and plants. The RSPB works with other organisations as part of the Avalon Marshes Partnership to coordinate conservation issues across the Somerset Levels.

The reserve is open year-round, and has nature trails, hides and viewing points. It lies within the Somerset Levels NNR and the Somerset Levels and Moors' Ramsar and Special Area of Conservation site. Potential future threats may result from increasing unpredictability in the UK climate, leading to heavy summer rains and extensive flooding. Sea level rise will make the drainage of the Levels more difficult, and current water pumping facilities may become inadequate.

Hickling Broad

Hickling Broad is a 600-hectare (1,500-acre) nature reserve 4 km south-east of Stalham, north-east of Norwich in Norfolk. It is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. It is a National Nature Reserve and part of the Upper Thurne Broads and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest and Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I. It is in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and part of the Broadland Ramsar site and Special Protection Area, and The Broads Special Area of Conservation.It is the broad with the largest surface area, and the water is slightly brackish, due to its proximity to the sea. The navigation channel is only 1.5 m deep, with much of the broad being shallower; it is 1.4 km², making it one of the largest expanses of open water in East Anglia.

It has the largest reed-bed in England and supports rare waterweeds such as the holly-leaved naiad and three rare species of stonewort. Amongst the rare insects is the swallowtail butterfly which feeds on milk-parsley (Peucedanum palustre), the Norfolk hawker Aeshna isosceles and Emperor dragonfly. Birds that visit the reserve during the winter include cranes, goldeneyes, shovelers and teals, while bitterns, marsh harriers, pochards, water rails and Cetti's warblers stay for most of the year. There is a waymarked walk around the broad.

Little egret

The little egret (Egretta garzetta) is a species of small heron in the family Ardeidae. The genus name comes from the Provençal French Aigrette, "egret", a diminutive of Aigron," heron". The species epithet garzetta is from the Italian name for this bird, garzetta or sgarzetta.It is a white bird with a slender black beak, long black legs and, in the western race, yellow feet. As an aquatic bird, it feeds in shallow water and on land, consuming a variety of small creatures. It breeds colonially, often with other species of water birds, making a platform nest of sticks in a tree, bush or reed bed. A clutch of bluish-green eggs is laid and incubated by both parents. The young fledge at about six weeks of age.

Its breeding distribution is in wetlands in warm temperate to tropical parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. A successful colonist, its range has gradually expanded north, with stable and self-sustaining populations now present in the United Kingdom.In warmer locations, most birds are permanent residents; northern populations, including many European birds, migrate to Africa and southern Asia to over-winter there. The birds may also wander north in late summer after the breeding season, and their tendency to disperse may have assisted in the recent expansion of the bird's range. At one time common in Western Europe, it was hunted extensively in the 19th century to provide plumes for the decoration of hats and became locally extinct in northwestern Europe and scarce in the south. Around 1950, conservation laws were introduced in southern Europe to protect the species and their numbers began to increase. By the beginning of the 21st century the bird was breeding again in France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Britain. Its range is continuing to expand westward, and the species has begun to colonise the New World; it was first seen in Barbados in 1954 and first bred there in 1994. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the bird's global conservation status as being of "least concern".


The Lobau is a Vienna floodplain on the northern side of the Danube in Donaustadt and partly in Großenzersdorf, Lower Austria. It has been part of the Danube-Auen National Park since 1996 and has been a protected area since 1978. It is used as a recreational area and is known as a site of nudism. There is also an oil harbour, and the Austrian Army used the Lobau as a training ground. In addition to the water coming from the Alps through the Wiener Hochquellenwasserleitung, the Lobau is a source of groundwater for Vienna.

The Donauinsel (Vienna Danube Island) borders the Lobau.

Marazion Marsh

Marazion Marsh is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve situated in a shallow river valley, half a kilometre to the west of Marazion, Cornwall, UK. It is separated from the coast by a shingle bar and small sand dune system and contains Cornwall’s largest reed bed.

Reed (plant)

Reed is a common name for several tall, grass-like plants of wetlands.

Stiffkey Fen

Stiffkey Fen is a nature reserve near Stiffkey, Norfolk. It is 14 ha (35 acres) in extent, and was created from farmland by Lord Buxton, who also, with the support of the Environment Agency, improved the wetland by slowing the water flow through the fen. The reserve has a reed bed and a fresh water lagoon and islands. It has a winter roost of up to 4,000 northern lapwings, and also hosts water rails and bearded tits.It is part of the 7,700-hectare (19,000-acre) North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest. The larger area is now additionally protected through Natura 2000, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar listings, and is part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The reserve was donated to the Buxton Conservation Trust in 1999.

Stoke Bruerne Brick Pits

Stoke Bruerne Brick Pits is a six hectare nature reserve in Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire. It is managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.This former brickworks was opened at the end of the eighteenth century for the construction of the Grand Junction Canal, and is on its bank. There are diverse habitats with grassland, ponds, a reed bed and a redundant arm of the canal. Invertebrates include white-legged damselflies and there are a variety of small mammals which provide food for barn owls.There is access from the canal towpath.


Suurrahu (also known as Haeskarahu and Suurerahu; Swedish: Näckman; German: Neckmans-Grund) is a 0.1248 ha (0.308 acres) uninhabited Estonian islet in Matsalu Bay (part of the Väinameri Sea, on the territory of the Matsalu National Park. Administratively Suurrahu belongs to the Haeska village in Ridala Parish, Lääne County.

The islet is covered by coastal meadow and the coastline by reed bed.

Thatcham Reed Beds

Thatcham Reed Beds is a 66.9 hectare (165.3 acre) Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Thatcham in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1974. It is also a Local Nature Reserve. The site is managed by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.Located at grid reference SU507665, Thatcham Reed Beds is important nationally for its extensive reed bed, species rich alder woodland and fen habitats. The latter supports Desmoulin's whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana), which is of national and European importance. A large assemblage of breeding birds including nationally rare species such as Cetti's warbler (Cettia cetti) is also associated with the reedbed, fen and open water habitats found at Thatcham Reed Beds.Thatcham's network of gravel pits, reedbed, woodland, hedges and grassland is rich in wildlife and has been made into The Nature Discovery Centre by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Titchwell Marsh

Titchwell Marsh is an English nature reserve owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Located on the north coast of the county of Norfolk, between the villages of Titchwell and Thornham, about 8 km (5.0 mi) east of the seaside resort of Hunstanton, its 171 hectares (420 acres) include reed beds, saltmarshes, a freshwater lagoon and sandy beach, with a small woodland area near the car park. This internationally important reserve is part of the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and is also protected through Natura 2000, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar listings.

The reserve is important for some scarce breeding birds, such as pied avocets on the islands, and western marsh harriers, Eurasian bitterns and bearded reedlings in the reeds. To encourage bitterns to breed, the reed beds have been improved to make them wetter, and the lagoon has been stocked with the common rudd. Typical wetland birds such as the water rail, reed warbler and sedge warbler also appear, and little egrets are common. The reserve has regularly attracted rarities, as its location is important for migrating birds. Ducks and geese winter at Titchwell in considerable numbers, and the reserve shelters the endangered European water vole.

Facilities include three bird hides, a seawatching platform, two nature trails, and a visitor centre. Because of concerns about climate change, a major project in 2010 and 2011 brought improvements to the banks around the freshwater lagoon and the conversion of the brackish lagoon to tidal saltmarsh, a more effective barrier to encroachment by the sea.

Titchwell Marsh is archaeologically significant, with artefacts dating back to the Upper Paleolithic, and has remains of military constructions from both world wars. These include brickwork from a First World War military hospital and 1940s artillery targets for armoured fighting vehicles and warplanes in the Second World War.

Von Schrenck's bittern

Von Schrenck's bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus), also known as Schrenck's bittern, is a small bittern. It breeds in China and Siberia from March to July, and Japan from May to August. It winters in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Laos, passing through the rest of South-east Asia. It is an exceptionally rare vagrant as far west as Europe, with a single sighting in Italy in 1912. It is named after Leopold von Schrenck, the 19th-century Russian naturalist.

This is a small species at 33 to 38 cm (13 to 15 in) in length, with a short neck, longish yellow bill and yellow legs. The male is uniformly chestnut above, and buff below and on the wing coverts. The female and juvenile are chestnut all over with white speckles above, and white streaks below. When in flight, it shows black flight feathers and tail.

Their breeding habitat is reed beds. They can be difficult to see, given their skulking lifestyle and reed bed habitat, but tend to emerge at dusk, when they can be seen creeping almost cat-like in search of preys.

Widespread throughout its large range, Von Schrenck's bittern is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Wingan River

The Wingan River is a perennial river with no defined major catchment, located in the East Gippsland region of the Australian state of Victoria.


Woolhampton is a village and civil parish in West Berkshire, England. The village straddles the London to Bath (A4) road between the towns of Reading (8 miles) and Newbury (6 miles). The village homes are clustered and are on the northern side of the plain of the River Kennet, with the Berkshire Downs rising through the fields and woods of the village northwards.

Woolhampton Reed Bed

Woolhampton Reed Bed is a 5.77 hectare (14.25 acre) Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Woolhampton in the English county of Berkshire. The site was officially notified in 1985.

The site is adjacent to the River Kennet and consists of dense reed bed with smaller areas of tall fen vegetation and carr woodland. It is notable for its nesting passerine bird populations and for the diversity of insects it supports, which include several uncommon species including reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), a species which in Britain nests almost exclusively in this habitat.

Classification systems


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