Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Today it rained!

We worked with our regular Tuesday volunteers today at the same place that we worked on Sunday with out irregular volunteers (hope that makes sense). The fire was resurrected and we felled a clump of Larch trees that were growing in the same area , this was made much easier due to the fact that all the understory had been removed. The weather forecast said that it would rain this afternoon, why then were we all drenched by lunchtime? We carried on regardless, felling the trees close to the fire to reduce the amount of dragging required to get rid of the branches. This did at least mean that we weren't permanently cold as we went from cold and wet to scorched and wet at regular intervals. It was still raining as we finished at 5 o clock and it is still pouring down out there now! At one point i splashed along to the Land Rover to get the camera, got back to take a few pics to find that the batteries had died. Never mind, clothes should be dried out by the morning and it can't rain again..can it?

Volunteers improve the views

We just had a wonderful 3 days of work carried out by the Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers (SSNTV). They stayed at Mose Cottage on the Dudmaston National Trust Estate,  and worked from Friday through to Sunday. This was a great opportunity to get loads of work done and we had a different work site on each day. On Friday we coppiced an area of Hazel to re-instate a lovely viewpoint, this can be seen if you follow the Jenny Wind walk around the Harley Bank area of the Edge.

On Saturday we moved to the old railway line to cut back the vegetation on either side where we are soon to carry out some large scale forestry work. This work opened up the bridleway, making it more pleasant for people and also more beneficial for wildlife such as Butterflies. Also, if the forestry work was done without first removing the understory it would all have been smashed to bits, now the big trees can be felled and the understory can re-grow next Spring.

On Sunday we moved to another stretch of the old railway line and created a new viewpoint as well as opening up either side of the Bridleway. On all 3 days we had fires to burn the brash, these were definately welcome on Friday and Sunday when the weather was poor to say the least! We managed to cut some hedgelaying stakes and binders from the coppicing we didand hopefully these will be used at Attingham park in the near future.

As usual when the group visit there was plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of banter and more importanly plenty of cake! Thanks for your help and hope to see you all soon.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Forestry show

Last Friday Wenlock Edge was left to look after itself as we headed to Warwickshire to the biennial APF Forestry Show at Ragley Hall. There is loads to see if you have an interest in forestry work or simply like looking at big, shiny and sometimes noisy machinery. There were chippers, harvesters, firewood processors, chainsaw carving, pole climbing competitions and a few old friends to catch up with on the way round the demonstration circuit. Whilst we were not looking to buy anything it is good to see what is going on within the industry, it is also nice to dream!
This will have to remain on the wish list!


 

Pole climbing competition, i'd still be behind the gazebo!

How it used to be done! 

Grassland management

During the recent good weather lots of our time has been spent cutting grass from a few of our areas of Limestone grassland. We do this to prevent the nutrient levels in the soil from increasing as this would encourage growth of nettles and other undesirable plants that would out compete the delicate wildflowers. One field, opposite the Wenlock Edge Inn was done using a mower attached to a tractor, the dried grass was then baled using a tractor and removed from the field using a tractor. This was fairly straight forward and not too time consuming. Most of the other areas of grassland are too small to use an industrial sized mower and they also contain ant hills which would be destroyed by such techniques. So we borrowed a Sickle bar mower from our friends at Attingham Park and spent a few days motoring around small, awkwardly shaped fields trying to avoid upsetting the ants.
Once the grass had dried out it was simply a case of raking it up and loading it onto a trailer, it is only then that you realise just how much you have cut, You also realise that it would be useful to be able to rake both left and right handed as one side of your body tends to feel it a little after a few days! All the grass has now gone, in some of the fields we will introduce a few sheep to eat back any late Summer/Autumn growth.
Near the entrance to Wilderhope Manor

 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Slow worm

Whilst working in the National Trust car park on the edge of Much Wenlock on Tuesday with our volunteers, Rob spotted a Slow Worm (actually a Lizard without legs) that had been under a pile of cut grass. It soon became aparent that it was in the process of swallowing an Earthworm. Thanks to Rob for the photos, after agravating it whilst we took photos we put the grass back on top of it and left in peace. It was a fairly large meal and would certainly have kept it going for a while, it will soon look for a sheltered place to hopefully protect it during the Winter.


 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ragwort!!

This year has been a wonderful one as far as Ragwort growth has been concerned. If you are not sure what it is i'll briefly describe it, a tall bienniel with dense flat topped yellow flowers growing in open areas, it particularly seems to like roadside verges where you may have noticed it. It seems this year to have had 3 flowering seasons this summer due to the weather conditions. We are required to clear our land of all Ragwort as it spreads its seeds so readily and can be harmful to livestock if it is eaten. It always seems a shame as it the foodplant of the Cinnabar moth's catterpillar, it is also an attractive plant and is used by many other insects.

We have greatly reduced the amount growing in our areas of grassland by pulling it all up for a number of years, however a couple of areas that have recently been coppiced within the woods were very well populated (ok they were full of it). Some of these plants were huge, 7 feet tall and up to 12 stems in some cases, quickly filling the trailer up.

Anyway it has now all gone up in smoke, the best way to get rid of it is to burn it to ensure that any seeds are killed. A really hot fire needs to be burning and then the Ragwort gradually thrown on top, it smokes a lot but works well. I just hope no one had their washing out and that there isn't another flowering season this year!