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. 

 

Sayers Common Pond Work Continues

The pond at Sayers Common was revisited this summer to undertake annual maintenance work. The summer was an extremely hot one and when we returned to maintain the area we found no water in the pond. This is an unusual occurrence and was found to have accelerated the spread of reeds and the integral willow stump growth to a degree that made it appear like a jungle scene. The damp mud and the lack of pond water beneath the blazing sun were obviously ideal conditions for these species to flourish in. This was very disheartening for the maintenance working party and took many weeks of extremely hard work to bring conditions back under control.

 

An explosion of reed and willow growth faced the volunteer working party.

The root spread on the reeds was considerable and each one we managed to pull up carried a root foot of over half a metre. This was entangled with the surrounding mud which lifted out with it and made it extremely heavy to manhandle. Such was the spread of these reeds which had transformed a beautiful open pond into a reed bed, that we had to resort to chopping them down rather than removing them. This was obviously not a long term solution but at least it returned the area to a semblance of normality in the interim period.

 

The reeds were cut back to the dry pond base.

The willow stumps were more accessible to cut back their growth as we were able to walk across the mud to them rather than wade through water. This was done as one of the first tasks but such were the favourable growth conditions during this hot spell that by the time we had completed our period of work they needed cutting back again.

 

All cuttings were manhandled to a central collection point for disposal.

We completed this task and removed the spreading brush around the pond so that it once again looked like the pond that had attracted so much wildlife but we knew that a more permanent solution was required. This is being considered to make it more manageable in future years.

 

Each visit progressively restored the pond to its previous state but still without the water that was necessary for wildlife to return again.

Continuing Dormouse Investigation

Every month between April and November we check all the dormouse presence investigation tubes that we have installed in local woodlands. This is an activity that has to be slotted into our calendar of conservation initiatives. Progressively all woodlands will be checked. The late August investigation did not reveal any definitive signs of dormice but many promising possibilities for later checks. Gnawed nuts, seeds and fruits were found in many of the tubes in one particular location with other clues of a mouse presence evident. Wood mice and yellow-necks compete with dormice for use of the tubes during the summer months and are identified if not present, by the debris left and construction of any nesting material introduced. Hopefully future checks will produce some positive results as in previous years.

 

Checks for dormice take place every month by a dedicated team of group members.

 

All results are recorded against each numbered dormouse tube together with their exact location within the wood.

2018 Public Talk Success

Fred Hageneder delivered an excellent talk entitled ‘Wonders of Yew’ at the public talk hosted by The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group on 23rd August. It was to an audience of 200 people and was very well received. The evening was further enhanced by his melodic harp music delivered in the interval. Overall the event was a huge success and resulted in many accolades from attendees afterwards. The group tries to get well known speakers each year to encourage new supporters to join to keep in touch with their achievements and activities. This year was very successful and boosted group membership considerably.

Michael Nailard (left) pictured with the renowned author and yew expert Fred Hageneder (right) at the beginning of the evening.

                       

The event was very well attended and began with a preview of the recent achievements of The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group.

 

This was immediately followed by the excellent ‘Wonders of Yew’ presentation by Fred Hageneder for the rest of the evening.

 

A musical interlude between the two sections of his talk was provided by Fred Hageneder with some delicate harp melodies which were enjoyed by all.