Volunteer power and Lower Test heroes!

This week has seen a huge amount of habitat management tasks carried out by staff and lots of volunteers. On Wednesday we were joined by Simon King of the Lower Test marshes and his team of six machinery trained and certificated volunteers. Assistant Reserves Officer Adam and volunteer Jack went over to the western side of Ibsley Water and strimmed back rush, bramble and small willows to help maintain short grassland habitat for wintering ducks and lapwing.


Ibsley Water grassland before…


and after. Excellent feeding habitat for wigeon, geese, lapwing and starlings.

The rest of the team spent the day felling some dangerous leaning and damaged trees by the entrance track to the Blashford Lakes education centre, various footpaths and hides.

Thrusday saw the regular Blashford volunteer team raking up and burning the vegetation cut by Adam and Jack on the shores of Ibsley Water. Three of the keener vols even dug out some pampas grass that had somehow sneaked into the reserve, a very important job to stop this South American invader, thanks guys!

The Lower Test lads returned on Friday and spent day felling a few more large dangerous trees and helping patch repairs some fences.


Felling a large dead willow, that would’ve otherwise fallen on a path.


Making a quick retreat as the tree topples over


The dead tree is left whole to provide a dead wood habitat for a range of invertebrates and animals.

It is always a shame to have to fell dead trees but when there is a risk of them falling onto paths, roads, hides etc we don’t have a choice. Where possible we try to retain standing dead timber as it provides a shelter and food for a huge range of wildlife. Anything we did fell we left whole to mimic the effect of naturally fallen trees or we just cut back the minimum of branches to keep paths clear.

Another job was repairing holes cut in fence lines by fishermen illegally accessing Ibsley Water.


A hole cut in a fence (with a volunteers leg for scale) by fishermen.


Litter left by fishermen. (Other brands are available).

One large Oak tree had partly collapsed and was leaning over a bench and footpath, a definite accident waiting to happen. It however proved no match for Simon and his team.


Simon throwing a strop over an oak, so we can winch it down.


Once down, the outer branches were cut back from the footpath.

The pleasing thing about this tree is the roots are still in the soil so the tree will continue to grow, but is no longer at risk of falling on anyone.


Volunteers Steve and Jack re-erect the bench, while Brian watches.

The Lower Test team really are real modern day wildlife heroes, forget all the documentary television presenters and cameramen, these guys are the real deal. They voluntarily give their time, two days a week and help manage Wildlife Trust reserves all over Hampshire with a huge amount of skilled practical tasks and habitat management, saving the Trust huge amounts of money and benefiting Hampshire’s rare habitats and wildlife.

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