Once more coronavirus ‘lockdown’ restrictions are eased gradually and we are able to turn our attention to the seasonal activities that have been delayed. Normally we return to the small nature reserve called Talbot Field in the winter months to control the brush that has developed. Bramble and other unwanted brush continuously appears and needs to be controlled. In the woodland area especially, failure to control this growth creates an impenetrable tangle which stifles woodland flora development and makes access later into the area with ladders to check and maintain the bird and bat boxes extremely difficult.
Brush emerges to blanket the area each year.
This year we were obviously unable to progress this work at the allotted time so had to make it one of our top priorities as soon as we were able to resume working, whilst once again observing coronavirus safety precautions. Volunteers gathered again to achieve this and attended weekly with brush-cutters, loppers, saws, rakes, hayforks and wheelbarrows to tackle the task.
Volunteers return to address the problem.
One of the first tasks was to remove all fallen and broken branches that the wild winter weather had displaced. They were gathered up and stacked in piles in the woodland to provide future habitat for small wildlife species and insects.
Fallen branches were gathered up….
….and stacked in piles.
The whole woodland floor was scoured to remove the fallen branches.
This then cleared the wooded area of large obstacles so that the removal of the brush could be started. Care was taken to preserve any emerging flora species that were appearing due to the seasonal lateness of our activity. This in turn allowed the inter-woodland pathways for public access to be made accessible once more as the bramble growth was cleared.
Once cleared of the large obstacles brush clearance commenced.
Any emerging flora species found were duly protected from damage.
So much debris was raked up into piles by our that most of it had to be transported in wheelbarrows to a central bonfire site and disposed of. Some of the piles of cuttings were retained to provide habitat for other wildlife species.
Volunteers then grappled with the task of removing the cuttings.
All debris was first raked into piles…..
….and then transported to the bonfire site in wheelbarrows.
Due to restricting the bonfire to one site to limit meadow damage….
….a lot of journeys were required to transport the raked-up debris.
The bramble and other brush cuttings were removed efficiently by the volunteers.
Simultaneously other volunteers tackled the meadow perimeter to prevent advancing brush emerging from the hedgerows into the wildflower meadow area. All resulting debris was transported in barrows directly to the bonfire site where a volunteer was working hard to burn it.
A central position at the back of the site was selected for the bonfire.
Where one of the volunteers ensured that all cuttings were burnt.
Attention was given to every metre of the site.
All hedge boundaries were tackled to create space for emerging flora.
Work continued until each section was completed satisfactorily….
.…and all rubbish was disposed of.
When the task was finally completed after many weeks of hard work The area looked impressively clear and ready for the wild flowers to emerge freely.
A quick check was given to the site when completed….
….to ensure all public pathways were clear….
….and free of any remaining brush.
This was the woodland as it appeared when it had been finally cleared of all impeding brush and was ready for the flora to emerge.
Within a short period of time the hard work of the volunteers had begun to reap the desired rewards. Now unfettered by the oppressive brush growth, the underlying woodland flora began to emerge again. In the next week or so the area was transformed as shown below:-
With all brush removed, in a short time bluebells sprang up everywhere.
Their sweet scented aroma permeated the woodland understorey.
Figwort grew profusely beneath the trees.
A woodland pathway flanked by bluebells.
Bordering banks laced in blue provide an ornamental picture frame to the woodland.
The woodland wildlife heaps become engulfed in a sea of blue flora.
Flowers emerge in every section of the woodland floor.
Stitchwort provides a contrasting addition to the area.
Patches of ground ivy produce a colourful display.
The meadow borders also provide a spectacular picture of flora species.
Every hedgerow provides a rich bluebell border beneath.
Ladies smock grows freely in places across the meadow.
Garlic mustard thrives beneath the bordering hedgerows.
One of last year’s cowslip plug plants emerging in flower.
Many of last year’s other wildflower plugs are emerging throughout the meadow having survived the rabbit attacks, burrowing moles and inclement periods of weather, but are not yet in flower. The coming months will hopefully reap a reward for their nurturing with daily water visits last year to enable them to survive the long, dry periods of summer.
Other wildflower plugs have been planted this year and are being provided with the same attention as their predecessors to allow them to establish. It is hoped that additional plugs can be planted every year to enrich the area’s flora display and to provide a diverse habitat to support an increasing range of wildlife. Such opportunities to support and improve our natural environment must be seized upon to relieve the detrimental pressure human beings are placing on both wildlife and countryside.