Today’s tasks were to clear some of the vegetation from the ponds and the pathways and verges.
We want to make sure some open water is maintained in the pond to suit some of the dragonfly species and other aquatic life. Waders and long gloves kept us (mostly) dry. We concentrate on the Bogbean as this is dominating both ponds and forms a dense mat of roots, hard to remove. We replaced as much of the Marsh Cinquefoil as we spotted. This lovely plant has colonised well which we are pleased about.
The land based team did a great job in cutting back comfrey, thistle, bindweed and grasses from the entrance section, around the ponds and into the woodland.
There is a theme emerging this autumn. The hungry midges. This time we had the Skin so Soft to hand, but couldn’t get it out of the bottle! The midges are definitely not the worst thing. There is continued drug use on the site. We avoided the area beyond the medlar tree, where a significant number of needles were identified. The clearance is going to take a more focused approach. Luckily we are receiving help form the police and the cleansing department so we hope that the problem will be resolved by next spring.
Returning the Laisteridge Lane site we set about today's task of general pathway clearance and general maintenance of the nature reserve.
A broken bench within the seating area beside the ponds was dug out and replaced with a home-made one thanks to the efforts of some of the team.
Removing some of the more dominant plant species, our volunteers concentrated on improving the wildflower diversity by planting the varieties we brought to the site, along with redistributing some of the wildflowers from different areas of the nature reserve.
However the management of the railway line and meadow area had to be cut short due to the discovery of an overgrown secluded spot which appeared to show signs of extensive drug use. Efforts to do a good litter clean-up was further hampered due to a large amount of waste which seemed to contain rotten down cannabis plant matter and needles.
Our task was to increase the amount of sunlight reaching the pond and meadow areas. This involved felling sizable ash and willow trees, and removing spreading branches from the hornbeam next to the meadow. The long handled saw was very useful for removing ash growing over the path and pond. We practised our bird’s beak cuts in order to control direction of felling, and were pleased with the amount achieved through the day. We also removed piles of compost left from our autumn pond clearance day.
It was a pretty wet start to the day, and despite the rain clearing by mid-morning, the paths became very muddy and slippy through the day. Long-tailed Tits buzzed around above our heads, the thrushes were vocal, and we were pleased to have good site and sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling loudly from a tree adjacent to All Saints Road.
Our last pond work of the year, and a good job too as the quite a few of the waders seem to be leaking, or just wet (sorry Amy!). Despite the conditions (wet feet, rain, pond) both ponds had a good clearance with the focus being ono the bogbean which forms a dense root mass which can be hard to remove.
Tesco say they will come and collect the trolley that was in the pond. And we hope the ‘beavers’ don’t return to put all the logs back in the pond.
All the paths, meadow and parts of the railway cutting were cut and raked.
In the winter we will be thinning some of the trees to let more light into the ponds and woodland floor.
15th May 2015The tasks today will include path clearance (especially around the pond), management of the railway line and meadow, digging out the burnt remains of the bench and hopefully replacing it with a homemade one. we may also have some bark to barrow to replenish the paths.
We planned to tackle several tasks on the nature reserve, today. After introducing the site to new people we divided into small groups to tackle the work. A group cut back the Laurel bush that we had started to cut several years ago. This will bring in more light to the site and allow the native whips planted to thrive. The decking platform which had become slippery and nearly unusable was covered in chicken wire to provide a non-slip surface. The tree identification signs were cleaned, replaced and repaired ready for visitors. Litter and fly tipping was collected from around the site, being winter it was more visible and unsightly than usual, so the place looked a great deal better with it gone. Finally we cut back some of the limbs of the Willow tree overhanging the top pond, this again will allow more light into the site and in turn benefit the pond habitat.
More pond management was required today this time at the Urban Nature Reserve. We worked in both ponds and our aim was to remove the less beneficial plants like bog bean and water soldier. This will give the more beneficial plants like soft rush, lily, water mint and purple loosestrife a chance to develop. These are more beneficial to the aquatic insects. Plus remove some of the fallen leaves from the trees which reduce the oxygen in the water and cause the pond to silt up as they decompose. Whilst this was underway others were removing the brash from the pruned Beech trees to create more useful habitat piles. Also, digging up the variegated archangel and replacing it with woodland flora like the red campion which gave an impressive display this year. The grass areas were cut and raked off and in the meadow area we were able to dig out some of the persistent weeds like dock. Thanks to Andrew who surveyed urban ponds for a university project recently, was able to show us snails, beetles and insect larva and it appears the ponds are healthy for such an urban setting, but they will still need our careful future attention.
We returned to our outdoor projects with a visit to the Urban Nature Reserve. We worked on several different areas of the site, like clearing more of the snowberry and replanting with Rowan in the woodland area. Wildflowers were planted in the woodland and the slopes around the ponds; these will provide good nectar sources for insects. Insect and mammal trapdoors were put in place around the site, pruning of the beech hedge which will allow light to the ground flora and litter removed. It was a good days’ worth of management tasks that will benefit the wildlife on the site and add to the experience of visiting groups in the coming months. But the endless winter continues and we worked with snow on the ground, there were at least a few signs of spring appearing like flowering primrose.
This is the season for pond management as it is the least disruptive time for the wildlife that lives there. And so we set about clearing the vegetation that was beginning to dominate to give the other plants and creatures a chance to thrive. This is particularly wet and dirty work as we have to get the plants by the roots which are well below the water surface. But with usual good spirits, the task was soon got under way. We had managed to clear the top pond before lunch and worked on the lower pond after lunch. We had certainly achieved what we wanted to as both ponds had areas of water with no plants that did not before. This will allow the creatures like to dragonflies to use the area and will allow for pond activities to take place in future. We also carried out some other necessary management task, like clearing fly tipping including a mattress and wardrobe, cutting the meadow and grassy areas and further reducing the snow berry in the woodland, this will allow the woodland flowers to grow like the red campion.
Following the task we held a User Forum at Culture Fusion. This gave us an opportunity to discuss the project and future developments. We were treated to tasty apply cake and fresh apple juice. Then Sue and Kat gave us a presentation of the project that they had attended in Spain which Montse had organised in the summer. It looked a really exciting project in the mountains of Catalonian, looking after the environment there.
Thirteen volunteers work at the Reserve today. We undertook a variety of tasks including a little bit of woodland thinning to allow more light to reach the ground flora on the bank and railway cutting. We transplanted some red campion from the woodland area to the banking.
We removed nettles from the meadow and snowberry from the woodland area. Litter was cleared from around the site and the steps and path were topped up with bark that had been donated from RG group at the new ASDA building site on Cemetery Road.
The primroses, marsh marigolds and blackthorn were in full flower. Not only did we hear a chiff chaff, which will have arrived from Africa in the last few days, but had a really good view of one. Bumble bees, honey bees and small tortoiseshell butterflies were enjoying the sun, and there was female mallard on the pond.