Baildon Moor

Cutting Bracken - August 2008
Cutting Bracken - Aug 2008

We have concentrated on an area that had underlying moorland plants - heathers, sheep sorrel, heath bedstraw, bilberry and crowberry.

The control measures have involved cutting the bracken three times a year.

The results have been very encouraging and we continue to expand the areas we are managing.


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Conservation Work

Friday 20th July 2012, Baildon Moor

It was good to see so many swifts flying over the moor today. However there were not nearly enough to have an impact on the midge population - we have never seen (or felt) anything quite like it. A damp, still, muggy day was obviously ideal for them, and they made the most of our presence, with people leaving the moor at the end of the day ranging from mildly irritated, covered in red spots, to swollen faces looking like we'd done a few rounds in the boxing ring. What we are prepared to put up with in order to encourage biodiversity!

A survey of 'our' patch of the moor earlier in the week showed that there are quite a few meadow pipits and sky larks around. Because of the poor weather this summer, and potentially delayed fledging, we decided to be cautious regarding the areas of bracken to work in. We concentrated where the bracken is less dense, revisiting areas that are well under control and just extending the patch in one top section.

We continued to be encouraged by the emergence of heather and bilberry, as well as the bedstraw and sheep's sorrel, amongst the grass where the bracken has been cleared.

Today we worked with 13 volunteers

Friday 23rd August 2013 Baildon Moor, Top Car Park, Bingley Road, Baildon, BD16

Following on from our previous visit to the site the group continued with the project to control the bracken on the moor side. A couple of areas were concentrated on in the morning working on areas that had previously been cut. After lunch we worked on a patch that had not been cut before. The idea here was to uncover existing ground flora and allow this a chance to spread. In this area both crowberry and bilberry are growing. Plus we cut along the pathway as this had overgrown and was becoming impassable.

Again we were lucky with the weather and there was no return of the midges, but we have another visit still to carry out this year.

Today we worked with 12 volunteers.

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Friday 28th Aug: Baildon Moor, Baildon

Friday 28th August: Racking cut bracken in very strong windRacking cut bracken in very strong wind Today was our last trip of the season and we concentrated our efforts on ensuring we removed regrowing bracken from previously cut areas and raking the bracken litter. It is noticeable the amount that we have managed to cut over the past five years and the range of plant species that are recolonising the area. We are going to take advise over the winter on how best to proceed with the project. Although it was August we were exposed to some severe weather and had to result to the Lifeboat matches to get the kettle alight!

Today there were 6 volunteers.

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Friday 15th July 2011: Baildon Moor

looking westlooking westThis was our first visit of the year to the area of Baildon Moor where we have been controlling bracken for a decade. The impact we have had in enabling the moorland vegetation to thrive, rather than be swamped by the bracken is significant and noticeable. When we clear a patch the first plants to arrive are the heath bedstraw and sheep's sorrel, closely followed by the wavy hair grass. Heather and bilberry are now encroaching into the grassy areas giving a perfect example the plant succession on moorland. There are few small rowan and birch trees which will give perching points for birds, as well as food and shelter.

It feels wrong to complain it was too hot -we have had many a drenching on the exposed moor - however it was very warm! Good for the butterflies - the small heath were most numerous but there were also plenty of meadow brown, ringlet and large white. The crossleaved heath was in flower and going over and the ling (common heather) is just about to open. There were many bees visiting the heather and the bilberry.

We had a walk on the moor on Wednesday evening and there were quite a few birds in the longer bracken and a pair of hunting kestrels. On both days we disturbed a pair of partridges. Because of our observations we concentrated our cutting efforts today in some of the areas we have cut previously. We used scythes, sickles and slashers to cut the bracken and raked into to piles to make compost. Today we worked with 17 volunteers.

Friday 17th August 2012: Baildon Moor, Top Car Park, Bingley Road, Baildon, BD17.

It was a different experience today for the people who had braved the moorland midges last time. We had benign conditions and so were able to concentrate on the task of Bracken control. Our efforts were concentrated on tackling areas that we had already cleared and bracken started to regrow. This will give the surviving and emerging vegetation a better chance to thrive. We also took on some areas where little vegetation is apparent. The area that we have been working over the years is getting bigger and it is hard to remember where we started. We were also visited by a consultancy firm who are looking at a way the bracken that we cut may be used in the future.

Today we worked with 12 volunteers.

 Click here to see other photos of the day.


Friday 6th September 2013 Baildon Moor, Top Car Park, Bingley Road, Baildon, BD16

It was advisable to wear long sleeves today to protect against the midges but as it turned out it was necessary to wear long sleeves to protect against the weather which was cold and wet. But as usual this did not put off our group from the task in hand.  Using the cutting tools of scythes and sickles we cut back the bracken which was then raked off and piled up. As this was our third and final visit of the year we had progressed further along the hillside. We chose areas that had vegetation growing under it as a priority, and the bracken was cut back and raked off. This will give the vegetation a chance to develop which included the red fruits of the Crowberry, along with bilberry and heather. 

We will return again next year and continue with the moorland.

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Friday 16th July: Baildon Moor.

area of cleared bracken allowing grass to recolonisearea of cleared bracken allowing grass to recoloniseThis was our first visit of the year to Baildon Moor and as we arrived the moor promised do do what it does best. Weather!. However it turned out not too bad - very windy but not too wet. (on our Wednesday Wildlife Wander we were greeted by thunder, lightning and a soaking downpour).

We are working in the same area of moor with have managed for a decade - on the slope facing towards Sconce - but we are now focusing our extension work down hill rather than back towards the road. We will work in this direction to join the existing heather patches near the fairway. The gradient is too steep for the auto-scythe, which concentrated on the upper areas, so scythes and sickles were the main tools used, raking the arisings into large piles. Friends of Baildon moor used a strimmer to increase the impact of the work.

Swifts, oystercatchers, skylarks and pipits were present through the day, and a nest (probably swallow) was spotted in the shelter. The ling is just coming into flower and the first few bilberries were ripening.

Friday 2nd Sept: Baildon Moor, Top Car Park, Bingley Road, Baildon

Cutting BrackenCutting Bracken

A group of seventeen worked on the moor today, including 14 volunteers. This was our final visit of the year and we had a very successful day working effectively with the auto scythe and hand scythes and sickles. The cut bracken was raked and piled - as well as removing it so it does not prevent regeneration of moorland species, we hope the piles will make compost and they also act as markers of the extent of our work.

The impact that the bracken control BEES have undertaken is considerable and encouraging - the hillside now has good patches of bilberry, heather, crowberry as well as sheep's sorrel and heath bedstraw. We identified areas that we plan to work on next year and identified the need to instigate more monitoring areas. We have noticed that young heather plants are appearing amongst the grass which is to be expected as this is the natural succession of the moorland, but it would be good to monitor the speed and spread of the heather regeneration.

As well as enjoying the work we were able to enjoy the presence of bees in the heather, swallows feeding over the hillside and a covey of partridges numbering 13 or 14, disturbed from their roost in the bilberry.

Friday 26th July 2013 Baildon Moor, Top Car Park, Bingley Road, Baildon, BD16

We returned to the moor side for the first time this year and to continue the control of bracken and restoration of the moor vegetation. This was carried out using our hand tools of scythes and sickles and then raking off the cut bracken.  The group concentrated on the areas that we have cut previously and along the pathways. The work is appearing to have a positive effect on the vegetation and we will return again next month.

The weather was good for this visit and there was not the plague of midges that we encountered for the first visit last year.

Today we worked with 10 volunteers.

Click here to see other photos of the day.