Last week we started our winter work properly. For most of the days we were busy freeing grassland from the threat of bramble invasion!
Monday the Beechcroft team were busy on New hill at Swanwick clearing back areas of grassland that have been encroached by bramble and scrub. In clearing the scrub we are not only trying to get more flowering plants in the grassland, which are an important nectar source but also create lots of micro climates by shaping the bramble. The idea is to cut a wavy edge to the bramble clumps resulting in more scrub edge = more space for flowers, fruit and areas for birds to nest.
On Tuesday, joined by the Farlington volunteers, we did similar in the Point field – Knocking back bramble scrub to reclaim grassland but create bramble blocks with plenty of useable edge.
On Wednesday I used the tractor and topper to cut both the meadow closest to the road and also the drier area of the SSSI grassland at Hookheath meadows. I concentrated mainly on cutting the areas of rushes or sometimes known collectively as Juncus. This left lots of cut material which needed to be raked off and removed. This was done on Thursday with the help of the hardworking Beechcroft team. It wasn’t just a day of raking and forking, we spotted 2 fresh Clouded yellow butterflies, a Speckled wood laying her eggs on some rough grass and two Buzzards were never too far away, looking for a voley dinner no doubt.
Over the weekend the Trust collectively celebrated the hard work of all our Volunteers with an event at Testwood lakes. It was great to see over 100 people from every corner of the county and the island, all sharing their experiences. All volunteering roles were well represented from education to practical conservation to cattle lookers. The Trust couldn’t function without the 900 volunteers – so thank you to all those volunteers who are reading this.