Swan Lake Car Park Up Keep

Last week Laura and I visited Hawley Meadows and Swan Lake to maintain the car parks. Jobs included litter picking, replenishing dog poo bin bags, strimming entrance signs, hedge cutting and spraying the invasive grass. Both car parks now look much improved.

Swan Lake meadows are looking beautiful this time of year with Chicory in flower and butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies flying over head.

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Runfold Horse Margin

Today the volunteers, Charlotte and I are down at the Runfold Horse Margin, a wide bridleway between St George’s Road and the Princess Royal Pub in Runfold. We’ve carried on from the earlier track cutting by Stu & Jenny, so today we’re hay cutting the meadow strip. It is also proving a challenge repairing the awkward slotted fencing, so it needs all of our creative carpentry skills.

Jeremy fixing fence

Tony on motorscythe

Ranger Stuart

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Bats and Bins in Wellesley Woodland

Last Monday the usual Wellesley bin run was done by Stuart and I. We got 40 bags of rubbish! Filling our biggest trailer. It was good to see people using the bins. Especially the recycling section.

However it wasn’t all fun, we also had the serious task of bat monitoring to perform. Over the summer, when bats are most active, we have been monitoring the level of activity in Wellesley Woodland. The bat box is placed on trees and records the high frequencies that bats permit at night. The calls the box picks up are then analysed in specialist software to determine which species we have got. The information is then used to inform management plans and monitor it’s effectiveness.

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Successful reed planting at Grant’s Moor

Yesterday Stu, Bernard and I headed out to Grant’s Moor South. It’s fantastic to see how the vegetation in the southern pond become established after all our hard work.

Back in March we ran a joint task with the BVC Trust to help the riparian colonisation of the bare newly dredged pond. The volunteers created 10 net enclosures to protect Phragmities australis (common reed) tubers which we harvested from Frimley Hatches. Later in May these were supplemented with plant plugs which were dug into the mud.

The completed reed enclosures

The completed reed enclosures in March

It was very encouraging to see that both the Phragmities australis tubers and plugs have grown in the enclosures, and that Sparganium erectum (branched bur-reed) has returned from the disturbed mud.

Present day view of the same pond

Present day view of the same pond

Phragmities australis in the enclosures

Phragmities australis in the enclosures

Ranger Stuart

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Completion of Shawfield Track.

Yesterday The team and I completed laying the 80 tons of type 1 hard core to the old muddy track at Shawfield. I think the end results are very good compared to what it was like last winter. while on site we had many passers by saying how good it was that we were doing the track, one lady said her grandson uses it to get to school and always got to school covered in mud. I hope this will no longer happen. we have left some small piles on site for the winter / wet times so we can fill in any potholes that may appear when the bedding in has happened.

The project did throw a few spanners in the works, one of which was when the tractor decided it needed a break and got a puncture. This thankfully only held us up a short time. I hope all of the uses appreciate the hard work the team and I put into the track which compliments the new bridge. I would like to thank all who helped in what I would say were HOT condition. Many thanks

Ranger Stu.

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Toads and Fences

Today Mike, Chris, Paul and I have been cutting paths and hay on the Covebrook at West Heath Road, complete with a friendly toad. After lunch we headed over to Southwood Woodland to replace vandalised fence rails at two entrances. Almost time to head back to Ash Lock, I just need to check on a couple of trees following queries for our neighbours, then back in time for a cup of tea.

Tame Covebrook Toad

Paul and Mike fixing fence

Ranger Stuart

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My Work Experience with Blackwater Valley

Having spent the last 10 months with the BVCP for one day per week, whilst at Merrist Wood College, I have cleared paths, hedge cut, strimmed grass, installed picnic tables and litter bins, used my chainsaw qualification, split logs, built a footpath, operated the chipper, coppiced, refurbished tern islands, done some litter picking, washed up the volunteers tea cups ….and lots more.

So, it’s a really big thank you from me to the BVCP staff who all shared their knowledge and experience so freely and so patiently that helped me enormously with my College course. It was fun. I now have a Diploma in Countryside Management, a top academic student award, and……. a job with the Estates staff at Merrist Wood College that will involve taking senior school children on work experience.

Former Student Alan

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