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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wed 20th April 2016 - Martin's Wood (The Bee Fields), Newchurch. GG # 631.

Mark's Photographs.

Removing the redundant plastic rabbit guards.

Tackling the pesky bramble!

It looks as though the wood mice have been busy...

Another "scrape" takes shape.

Just part of the new bee "housing estate".
Steve's Photographs.

A return to this tremendous site for Hymenoptera (bees, solitary wasps etc), where we've been exposing new ground for their burrowing requirements for several years. Having all met up in the village car park, it was a short walk down to the EMH "Field of Memories" - an area planted with hundreds of daffodils and beautiful to see every spring. The area requiring our attention was just to the north of this field and we were soon as busy as bees (sorry - rubbish joke!) attacking the turf. For those who haven't seen the previous blogs about this site, we create "scrapes" to make things easier for the numerous bee and wasps that reside in the area. The soil here is the light, sandy type that is typical throughout the River Yar valley - our task is to remove the covering turf to expose the soil and then pile the turf in a pile around the edge. Have a look at the above photographs to get a better idea of what is difficult to explain in words! Other GG Team members busied themselves removing the plastic rabbit protection guards from the trees that had outgrown them and trying to reduce the amounts of bramble that springs up between the trees. Of course we did the usual litter-pick across the whole area we were working on. We had a visit from the IW Community Action Awards judges during the session who seemed very interested in the work we have been doing here both today and over previous years. 

One of the useful tools (besides a good spade) we find excellent for creating "scrapes" is a thing called a MATTOCK. Think of a pick axe with blades, instead of points, and you have the idea . also great for grubbing out bramble roots!


The earliest mattocks were deer antlers but later evolved into several basic designs. They have a broad blade, at 90 degrees to the handle, and another parallel with the handle, like the one shown here, that is perfect for cutting. It has been renowned for centuries for its versatility as a hand tool for breaking up hard ground, grubbing out tree roots and digging out stones, they are used by the army for digging 'foxholes' and were also used as primitive pole weapons in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Smaller versions are invaluable in archaeological excavation.

Many thanks to Mark and Steve for taking the photographs this week.

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