A chance to get together beyond our normal tasks, 13 of us met up at the Docks Gloucester. Started at the Lord High Constable before moving on to Brewer and Chef just a short way along. We did have to wait a bit for the food but it was pretty good stuff when it arrived.
A Natural England managed site that they are grazing with sheep. The task today was to move the electric fence to another part of the grassland, giving the sheep more grass to chew on. Quite a task to shift and roll up the fence material ready to resite it. Forunately the sheep didn’t take long to move across.
An early start for some of us (4.30am) for a walk round Highnam Woods listening out for the delight of bird song, at just about the best time to hear them. many Blackbirds, Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker and of course Nightingales for which the reserve is well known.
This was then followed later on by a walk from Alney island via Highnam Woods and Minsterworth albeit with a slight unintended detour. Taking in different habitats and landscapes on the way.
Another sunny day at Stinchcombe Hill, managed by Stinchcombe Hill Trust mainly for Butterflies and other invertebrates. Removing small trees and brambles.
A joint task with Cotswold Canals Trust near to Coates, Cirencester. A lovely sunny day spent clearing trees that were close to the side of the canal.
A well attended day helping the Kemerton estate by opening up one side of a stream to allow more light in. Hopefully to encourage more diversity in and around the stream. We were able to complete half of the work so aim to return later in the year.
A well attended task at this Local Nature Reserve in Quedgeley, Gloucester. We were coppicing some of the overgrown Hazel in a small area behind the pond. Some of which had substantial sized limbs so we couldn’t manage all of the hazel. Hopefully this will open up the area to more light and encourage the ground flora, although some work will be needed to remove a proportion of the ivy that is covering the ground in places. Hoping to be able to plant out some bluebells in the Autumn.
As this was our Christmas task it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have baked potatoes and mince pies (homemade). One of the volunteers partners took on the task of supplying the baked potatoes, so much appreciated.
A return visit to Edge Common nr Painswick to assist Natural England in maintaining the limestone grassland habitat. Six of us were removing Ash saplings – either by pulling up using the wonderful tree-poppers or sawing. The stumps were treated to prevent regrowth. We burnt the cut material.
Couldn’t have asked for better weather either.
Edge Common is one of the ‘strongholds’ for Duke of Burgundy butterflies; along with being home to an important suite of plant species specific to limestone grassland.
After a foggy start it soon burnt off and proved to be a bright and warm day. We joined Butterfly Conservation volunteers on their reserve near the Masts on Cleeve Common, to help remove a small amount of bramble and hawthorn encroaching onto the limestone grassland. This is a wonderful reserve for it’s flora and invertebrates so anything that extends the grassland is helpful (although a certain amount of scrub is left as this too is important habitat).
An exhausting but satisfying day.
A follow-up task with the Back from The Brink Project at Juniper Hill. Fencing around a Juniper Tree and scrape (created to allow seeds to germinate and grow on as they prefer bare ground in which to establish). Four of us and the Project Officer plus his son worked on getting posts in and wire netting,plus barbed wire on top. Hopefully this will prevent any nibbling by rabbits and discourage grazing by cattle.
Hard work on the steep slope, trying to maintain your position under the forces of gravity, but worthwhile in helping this native evergreen recover in numbers – there were 2 or 3 seedlings already within the fenced area, along with others in nearby caged plots.