2023.02.12 Prestbury Hill – Scalloping gorse

2023.02.12 Prestbury Hill – Scalloping gorse

Gorse is a wonderful habitat and source of food for all sorts of mammals, birds and insects but my, it does spread.

Our task on 12 February, working with the Butterfly Conservation warden, was to scallop a bank of gorse on Prestbury Hill. This involved carving out a “bite” at the perimeter of the bank, cutting the stems down to ground level. New growth will shortly appear in this cleared area and the object of the exercise will have been achieved – to produce a mix of new and old gorse all in one area so as to attract a greater range of insect and bird life.

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The warden leading by example

Next part of the exercise is to cut out another scallop further down the bank, leaving old growth in between. Once the areas processed have re-generated then the areas of old gorse previously left can in turn be scalloped. Process repeats ad infinitum.

Gorse, as is it’s wont, grows mainly on steep banks so accessing and working on it were slightly awkward. Oftimes the answer was to simply sit down next to a clump and work on it from a stable position.

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We had been warned of the possible presence of Adders so we had to keep a wary eye out when working in case we disturbed them

We tried an experiment, using a pole saw to slide in and slice off the stems at ground level. It worked beautifully, very fast, very efficient. Problem was it would only work on level ground, using it on a slope twisted the delicate blade making it useless. Well you don’t know unless you try.

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Trying out the pole saw technique

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Discussing the effectiveness of the pole saw with the warden

All of the cut material was dragged off and burned on an established fire site adjacent to the work area. A measure of control and care was required here as gorse burns fiercely and tends to spread easily to adjacent grass, scrub etc. Our fire was kept to a manageable size with a beater to hand to deal with any errant sparks etc.

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Burning the brash whilst NOT whistling “smoke gets in your eyes”

It is great to work on a task where we can stand back at the end of the day and clearly see the result of our efforts.

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The scallop we formed in the gorse



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