Meadow Cut At Pond Lye SNCI Continues

Work has steadily continued with the annual meadow cut at Pond Lye SNCI. It resumed in the late summer when group volunteers gathered to undertake the task of cutting all meadow growth and removing it.

Volunteers tackle the annual meadow cut.

Having now cleared the meadow of the jungle of brush that had virtually destroyed it, all attention is being given to restoring its quality so that all previously recorded distinctive flora species can return. This is a task which like the original brush removal, will take many years to achieve.

  The meadow is cut in sections.

The cutting operation is a considerable one for our volunteers to complete. The meadow covers an area of approximately 6 acres and takes a long time to cut so the more volunteers we can attract the easier it is to undertake.

Brush cutter operators begin the task.

 

Progressively the selected area is cut.

 

The cuttings are raked up and burnt.

 

Each volunteer selects an area to complete.

This year we were fortunately joined by a volunteer with a tractor and cutter who kindly assisted us. This helped us enormously and advanced our task significantly towards completion.

Our tractor volunteer steps in to assist.

 

The difference his help made was enormous.

 

Within a few hours he had competed a whole section of the meadow which would have taken weeks with brush cutters and scythes.

 

He then moved on to another section of more difficult terrain.

Due to the rough terrain in many areas with ant hills etc., the tractor and cutter were unable to cover the whole meadow but have completed a vast area.

The progress viewed from the car park entrance when the tractor work was completed was impressive and we are extremely grateful for this assistance.

The remaining difficult areas are being tackled with brush cutters and scythes and will hopefully be completed in the next few months, weather permitting. We are very grateful to all our volunteers for their help. If you are able to provide any assistance please contact us as there is a lot of raking and burning still to do.

Due to the uneven ground in many areas the tractor and cutter were unable to cover the whole meadow but have completed a tremendous amount. Completion is hoped for in the next few weeks when the remaining difficult areas are cut by hand. 

Local Bat Population Flourishes

Each year we inspect all of the bat boxes that we have erected around the local countryside to provide roosting habitat for this threatened species of wildlife. This year we found a lot of residents in the scores of boxes erected in many woodlands proving that our effort is contributing to their well-being. The summer has been a good one for warm weather and insects and the bats have capitalised on this.

 

One of the occupants found in our many boxes this year.

Breeding takes place earlier in the summer and when we inspect the boxes later in the season the young are mostly faring for themselves. Bats are sociable creatures and it is not uncommon to find groups clustered in the boxes, although the number found varies generally from one to ten. Not all boxes have residents in as they tend to move around a lot to obtain the best current locations which are dictated by weather and warmth. Even when empty there is a lot of evidence of use from the droppings left so we can determine whether a box has been occupied recently.

 

Two Soprano Pipistrelle Bats found huddled together in another box.

 

A pair of Common Pipistrelle bats enjoying the box sanctuary provided in one of the many woodlands we survey.

 

A young bat found attached to a removed door is gently returned to the safety of the box.

The task requires a dedicated working party of volunteers to manhandle the sections of ladders needed to get up to examine the boxes and a licenced person to undertake the activity. This year we were fortunate with good weather whilst undertaking the task so it was possible to achieve up to three excursions to different woodlands each week. Wet or windy weather makes the activity hazardous as the  boxes are mounted high in the trees. With wet ground the ladder can slip despite a volunteer standing on the bottom and trees swaying in the wind move the ladder resting against it. This is why inspection dates are chosen carefully to avoid these situations.

 

The success of the task is dependant on willing volunteers.

 

Considerable effort is required to transport and erect the ladder sections.

 

Every box is examined and results recorded.

 

Each working party member carries a section of the ladder between the boxes.

 

A hibernation box is examined for occupancy and cleaned out for future residents.

 

Written and photographic records are created for each occupant found.

This year we found a predominance of Common and Soprano Pipistrelle bats unlike last year when Brown Long-eared bats were more in evidence. Each bat presence is recorded and the results submitted to a national database which continuously monitors population numbers. We are fortunate to have volunteers who are prepared to undertake this very strenuous activity and are grateful for their enthusiasm and help. This year Mike, Steve and Jennie gave up many days of their valuable time to join me on this important exercise.

 

This gathering of Soprano Pipistrelles we found in one box demonstrates the value of our conservation initiative towards their survival.