As is usual on a Thursday it’s a conservation volunteer morning. For most of the year it seems we’re involved in either cutting things down (coppicing willow and hazel and bramble bashing) or pulling things up (nettles, ragwort and Himalayan balsam). At this time of year, however, we’re a bit ‘betwixt and between’ as it’s now the bird nesting season – so no cutting down – and the nuisance species have yet to pop their heads up. So now is a good opportunity to get some housekeeping chores done. If there are two words that go together at this time of year then perhaps they are ‘spring’ and ‘cleaning’.
Some of the team set-to in cleaning off the cobwebs and dirt that has accumulated on the outside of the Education Centre – and much better it looks now. Another team spent an energetic couple of hours removing patches of mud that had been washed in over the previous very wet months and accumulated in patches on some of the paths. Still more to be done, but the paths are now less gooey and more pleasant to use.
A project that has been on-going for several weeks has been the reclamation of a piece of artwork – a mosaic of stones in the shape of a ‘Hurricane’ aircraft – which had become heavily overgrown. A small dedicated team have been tirelessly clearing away the unwanted growth with the result below –
I’m told the mosaic is ‘actual size’ which if true is rather frightening – it seems tiny – my admiration for those that flew in these machines is immense.
But it’s not all just cleaning and polishing. As many gardeners will appreciate, what grows where and how strongly isn’t always what we want. It’s much the same on the reserve. There are areas where some stronger growth would be advantageous and one such is by the Ivy South Hide where gaps in the hedge make visitors too visible to the wildlife on the lake. The solution has been to put in a ‘dead hedge’ and plant some willow ‘withies’, which, hopefully, will grow to obscure the view.
Talking of being seen, it will soon be time to put out the rafts for the common terns to nest on. One of the many threats that the young terns will face is predation from some of the larger birds on the reserve. To help them survive, each of the rafts has been provided with tern chick refuges – little wooden shelters that they can hide in, but where the gulls and corvids can’t reach. Many of the original refuges have now exceeded their ‘best before date’ so a couple of the volunteers were making some new ones out of re-claimed pieces of timber.