New Volunteer Programme

BVCP Volunteer Task Programme Sept 2017

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Scraping by at Southwood Woodland

Today I’ve been out with our tractor finishing of the main meadow hay cut that Stu started on Friday.  I tackled the Common Reed (Phragmities australis) at the wetter end, which I’m pleased to say that after 3 dry days it cut and collected well.

Cutting reeds

After lunch I headed over to the north heath. After all the hard work of the volunteers over the last few years cutting back encroaching scrub, the heather is gradually extending south into the acid grassland.

North heath

Where the grass species are well established, it can be hard for the heather to compete. So today I used the tractor to remove the topsoil and rough ‘turf’ to create 50m2 of scrapes. This management looks drastic, but is great at promoting the heather regeneration since the seeds can remain dormant in the soil for decades. We can also supplement this by collecting and spreading the adjacent heather seeds with our volunteers.

Collecting the topsoil

Newly created scrapes on north heath

The topsoil was put to good use, by covering up the now camouflaged wood pile on the right of the photo above. Soil or woodchip topped log piles are ideal at creating hibernacula sites for our reptiles on site, and are great for small mammals and invertebrates as well.

I was great to get some more tractor experience, with some very careful weaving around heather and stumps. The quiet lunch break was a novelty complete with hornets, long-winged cone-headed bush crickets, small copper butterflies and an army of frogs.

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

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Southwood Seed Drive

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Common Mallow Malva sylvestris

On a previous Sunday, I was joined by the budding Southwood volunteers for our monthly task. However, unlike the usual routine, this month we were undertaking the collection of Bluebell seeds as part of the Blackwater Valley Trust woodland wildflowers project. Southwood Woodland supports an abundance of Bluebells, a flower that indicates ancient woodland.

 

Many of the other woodland areas that we manage are very young and lack connectivity to older sites. Because of this, they are unable to naturally obtain the diverse and abundant understory that ancient woodlands display. The Trust is aiming to change this by obtaining local native seeds that can be distributed within the younger woodlands.

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Common Blue Butterfly Polyommatus icarus

Finding and collecting the seeds was a good challenge. When it was all said and done, we had managed to source several buckets full whilst leaving a plentiful amount so that Southwood could continue to flourish.

I can’t thank the volunteers who came along enough. Not only did they complete the seed collection but they then set about cutting back the paths and even completed a site safety inspection.

 

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Buff-tip Moth Phalera bucephala

 

Thank you to all those who came out to help.

It was fantastic to get Southwood looking more preened and to get the Trust project underway.

If you would like to volunteer at Southwood Woodland or help sow the seeds n Autumn then please keep an eye out on our blog for our volunteer program.

Acting Ranger Jenny

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Preparing for Rivers Week

This evening I’ve been inspecting the River Blackwater by Swan Lake Park with the South East Rivers Trust. They are kindly helping us prepare for this years Rivers Week, by supporting us with advice and the necessary Environment Agency applications.  This year we are looking at three potential sites along the River Blackwater where we can improve the biodiversity and flow diversity, building on our previous successes at Hawley Meadows and Frimley Hatches.

Rivers Week starts on Monday 18th September, so keep an eye on our blog for ways you can get involved.

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

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Southwood Golf Course Consultation

Rushmoor Borough Council are currently asking for peoples views on the option to convert Southwood Golf Course into new natural open parkland, which lies between Southwood Woodland and the Cove Brook.

Aerial view of Southwood Golf Course Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

To find out more and have your say on the online survey, please visit.

http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk/southwoodsurvey

There are also drop-in consultation sessions at:

  • Southwood Community Centre on Tuesday 15 August, 3.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Southwood Golf Course on Tuesday 19 September, 3.30pm to 7.30pm

The Rushmoor Borough Council Councillors will consider all views and comments before making a decision in the autumn. The consultation closes on Friday 22 September.

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

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Creative use of our large tractor

This week our hay-cutting has been rather hampered by the unseasonably wet weather, so we’ve been finding creative uses for the tractor whilst it’s on hire. Yesterday Sam helped us install a heavy log barrier at Rushmoor Bottom in Wellesley Woodland, and today Jenny and I used the tractor claw to remove some rather heavy waste wood.

Sam on top of new log barrier

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

 

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Hollybush Hill Haycut

On Thursday last week Paul, Janet and Callum joined Sam, Stu and I to complete a hay cut at Hollybush Hill. The area had a large quantity of Canadian Goldenrod, which is an invasive species and prevents precious sunlight reaching native wildflowers and grasses.

Stu was on the motorsythe most of the day so it was up to us to rake up his work.

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Even though we had quite temperamental weather it was a lovely day and we completed the hay cut beautifully.  Paul even had a very fast Vole fall in love with his feet and I spotted a common blue female butterfly showing off for us.

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Hay cutting meadows with this technique used to be part of traditional farming, which has caused wildflowers and grasses to prefer low nutrient soil. However as farming techniques have changed it is up to us to cut meadows the traditional way and rake up the cuttings to prevent nutrients building up in the soil.

Unfortunately Stu got a tick on his arm so I will remind everyone again. Please check yourself regularly for ticks and any information you may need can be found on the NHS website or you can call 111 for advice.

Thank you very much Paul, Janet and Callum. You did a great job !

Assistant Ranger Bobbie Withers

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