Well, yesterday was the only day for the Country Park in the list of six that HBC have been promoting recently on Facebook. There was just two of us that attended, hardly surprising from our existing group considering the 4 month gap and the lack of response by HBC to email enquiries that I have been told about but the flood of new volunteers that we were promised from using social media to promote volunteering has not materialised. I am told that currently there are no further dates in the pipeline for any of the sites in the Borough and given that I believe three of the days were cancelled due to various reasons and a low turn out for most of the others, I would not be surprised if no more dates were forthcoming. From a management point of view it must be difficult to justify tying up a ranger for the best part of a day for such small numbers of volunteers.
We switched days this week and worked Friday so we could meet the Green Flag Award judges. This is open to all green spaces throughout the UK and the Country Park has won it every year since it was first entered. We were in the Quarry to carry on with digging out the bramble regrowth and it was really pleasing to see a lot of sheep’s sorrel now in flower on the areas that we have cleared.
There is also plenty of wood sage and rosebay willowherb taking advantage of the light now available with the scrub gone. We hope that there will be a botany survey this year to highlight the increase in diversity of plant species.
This week we have been doing some “weeding” at both the heather patches at North’s Seat, removing bramble and cutting gorse to encourage the heather to spread. We were lucky enough to see some of the smaller wildlife too. First was a gorse shield bug and here is Sam’s photo.
I managed to get this picture of not one but two juveniles which I was pleased about.
Ok, that should have got the attention of loads of birders and some extra hits for the site!! This week we have been uprooting brambles from the areas in the Quarry that we cleared last year using a tool called a Lazy Dog which which Sam on the right in the first photo below is holding. We usually use these for pulling ragwort (that should get us some more hits too) but they are also great for removing bramble by the roots with the least disturbance to the ground. If not checked this bramble would spread all across the areas that we have spent so much time clearing and prevent the seedlings that we can now see from thriving.
This is Thursday’s pile which might not look much but there is a very large number of individual roots there. Sorry about the dinginess of the photo, it had been quite a nice day before that haze appeared. We also sadly had to say goodbye to Bob the Estate Ranger who has transferred over to HBC’s contractors The Landscape Group and will from now on be working from their depot at Alexandra Park but we may still see him up here from time to time.
Here is Sunday’s haul all loaded into builders bags, ready to be taken back to the green waste recycling at the farm to be turned into compost along with all the other green waste from the borough that the contractors produce.
As a change this week we worked on Friday and replaced the top six steps down into the Quarry from the Visitor Centre side. In order for us to do this safely it was decided to close the path which led to the inevitable complaints from some visitors but it was only for a day and hardly a time of peak usage for the site. The old steps had come to the end of their life and had certainly lasted well. We also cleared the ashes up from our previous bonfires in the Quarry and moved the Heras fencing in preparation for our next bonfire at the Quarry face to dispose of arisings left from last year.
Last Thursday we did the last cutting in the Quarry ’till the autumn when we hope to finish opening up the quarry face. The narrow path that leads to the stone steps is now more open and should dry up faster.
This pile is about half of the cord wood that we got from one sprawling willow that was partly dead and covering a large area. New growth will now be able to establish itself there and the dead wood on the stump will provide invertebrate habitat.
This split log shows the decay spreading out from the centre. There were signs of bluebells coming up in the area we have just cleared which will certainly benefit and something that we are not used to seeing in the Quarry.
This still leaves us plenty to do pulling up the bramble in the areas we have cleared before that takes over!
How’s that for consistency!! We have pretty much cut the same amount again this week. This just leaves the green shaded area on the map to do which coincidentally is again about the same size.
Despite being a little colder the weather was good both days and drier under foot than last week. More of the same next week, please, and none of that white stuff!!