Last week 14 volunteers from the Environment Agency, Sue from the Trust and Katie and George, our two Hampshire Futures trainees, joined Stuart and I at Hawley Meadows. It rained heavily for most of the day but the volunteers worked industriously hard and demonstrated fantastic spirit and team work.
Luck was on our side in the morning getting the benches onto site as Stuart drove over the wet north meadow with a heavy trailer and benches. Not wanting to hang around in the rain we got straight to task installing the first bench over the river from the car park. Another group improved the car park by fixed large pot holes with left over tarmac and gravel. Whilst the final group litter picked the riverside and surveyed for Great Burnet. This early survey found 92 plants which shows that it is continuing to thrive. Great Burnet numbers are quickly declining in the UK. Hawley Meadows is the only site in Surrey where this rare plant can be found.
After lunch we headed to the northern meadow where we installed the third and final bench under an old oak looking south across the meadow. These benches help to meet the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust’s aim to provide more resting places along the Blackwater Valley Path. We also created a stumpery on the western edge of the meadow as part of another Trust project to encourage more stag beetles across the valley. A stumpery is a 50cm deep hole in the ground filled with vertical logs. The logs will rot from the bottom up and make fantastic homes for lots of invertebrates. Particularly stag beetles, the UK’s largest land beetle, whose larva live underground feeding on rotting wood for several years.
Thank you to all who volunteered! We hope to see you again.
Ast. Ranger Jenny