Although a few of us arrived at the GG session very early this week, we found the Ranger already on site with a well established bonfire! Our first task was to drag the piles of pre-cut willow to the fire and get it REALLY going.... Once the backlog was taken care of, it was time to start on the standing growth, cutting it down and on to the fire. Such was the progress, a second fire site was soon needed.With only a slight breeze the fires were soon blazing away, the only problem being the airborne hot embers. These caused many to do the "patting dance" when their clothing, or even worse, HAIR, started giving off that rather worrying smell of something catch fire...! The other occupational hazard was the boot sucking marsh mud which managed to up-end me (and at least one other - see photograph above), another load of clothing straight into the washing machine on arrival home. Those not wishing to set themselves alight by the fire were well employed raking up the cut reeds which should give the marsh plants a head start next season. This was a very well attended session, so nice to see so many people working together at a worthwhile task. Even the forecasted rain held off, although the wipers were needed on the trip home.
Photographs this week were courtesy of Carrie, Sue and Mark many thanks to them all.
This week the weather decided to play silly games with us. With a shower overhead at 10:00 and further showers forecasted, everyone decided to get kitted out in the wet weather clothing. By 10:15 the clouds cleared and we were all sweating away in extra layers of clothing...! Don't we just love British weather. The session consisted of "chopping and planting" - cutting back the undergrowth and planting trees and shrubs in the exposed areas along the hedge line to the north of the green. Although we have been back to this venue many times, we are still finding areas that benefit from our attention. By the end of the session, all the planting had been completed and the cut undergrowth was in neat piles on the green ready for collection. The attendance numbers were down a little this week, perhaps due to the forecasted rain? Welcome to the new GG members from St George's, hope you enjoyed working with us.
Carrie's Nature Natter.
October is the month of the equinox, the marker that highlights the changing of the seasons, and usually Autumn is in full swing by now, but this year it has seemingly only just begun. Colour will be spreading through our hedgerows and woodlands, with hazel one of the earliest native species to turn brown. Horse chestnut leaves have long since taken on their seasonal hues, sometimes looking quite shabby, but are also the first to create a wonderful bronze spectacle in the bright autumn sunshine. Other trees such as ash show more subtle colours, turning light green and then yellow. At the opposite extreme is the beech whose fiery orange and bronze leaves provide us with a spectacular show.
Few birds are heard singing in Autumn, although they can be heard calling to each other as they move around in flocks. The exception to this are often robins, whose autumn song has a sad and melancholy sound. Sometimes a period of warm weather can persuade song and mistle thrushes to start singing from their lofty perches, which is always a welcome sound as winter starts to close in. Resist the temptation to over tidy your gardens, as seed heads provide homes for insects, including ladybirds, and will also generate lots of seeds. These can provide food for birds during the coming winter, while fallen leaves and windfall fruit will attract birds and other animals. If you can find space for log piles in longer grass, these can provide homes for toads and newts from local ponds.
A particular delight this time of year is the arrival of large flocks of winter thrushes moving slowly south – the redwing and fieldfare, as they travel from their breeding grounds in Iceland and Scandinavia. Redwings are smallish birds with a prominent white eye stripe and bright red flashes under their wings. Fieldfares are slightly larger, with slate grey rump, red yellowy speckled front and brown wings. These large flocks seek out berries, such as on the hawthorns, and fruit especially if the ground is frozen, readily moving around Britain and across the north sea, depending on the harshness of the weather in search of food supplies.
Many thanks to Carrie for the Nature Natter and to Sue, Carrie and Mark for the photographs.
With the overnight showers cleared, the sun was back out for our GG session this week. A good crowd assembled in the car park ready to start work on the "houses and high-rise estates for bees". Regular readers of this blog will know that we have visited the Bee Fields many times before and our previous work was in evidence as we walked down to the work area, the patches we had cleared were swarming with bees entering and leaving their underground nests. Team GG were soon spread out between the trees, clearing the undergrowth and turf, so as to expose the sandy soil below. This allows the bees to burrow into the loosened soil. As the pictures show, we could give Barrett's a run for the money when it comes to developing housing in double quick time...! Some of the team went around the tree plantation removing the rabbit guards from the established trees and... of course... doing the usual litter pick.
Many thanks to Alison and Tony for the photographs this week.
Steve, Trevor and Jeff were best dressed for the weather
as they had waders on!
A cleared area.
The "neigh"bours were friendly!
The reason we do all this work....the wildlife.
Believed to be a young Bank Vole.
It all started so well.....
and then the rain came down!
The excitement of a new venue was somewhat "dampened" by torrential rain during our GG session this week. About half an hour into the session, the heavens opened and it just poured down.... to the extent that, at tea break, you had to drink your tea double quick before it topped up with rain! In spite of the weather, we made excellent progress at clearing the overgrown undergrowth from around the pond area. Half the team set about cutting a new access to the south side of the pond with the remainder tackling the overgrown areas around the original access path. Needless to say, with this being a pond, the willow has taken hold and the dense bramble thickets were well over head height. Although completely drenched to the skin, we carried on after tea break but eventually even the bravest souls had to call it a day. By the time we came to leave, the access lane was starting to resemble a white water rafting river, such was the intensity of the downpour. Typically, as I drove back into Newport, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Birchmore Pond is a delightful area to hold a GG session at but please can someone book better weather if we are to work here again...!
Considering the weather forecast, there was a good turnout with two new members joining us. Due to the this site being adjacent to the cycle track, a good few GGmers arrived on their bikes, so well done to them!
And finally.... a couple of extra photographs from Mark.
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) in cop
Photographs courtesy of Carrie and Mark, many thanks. Hope the cameras have dried out!