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Volunteering outdoors is proving popular
Again most of the group came along plus three new visitors. We tackled brambles in various places like the copses, the native hedge and adjacent to the top path and several hazel trees were coppiced to let light into the copses for the ground flora in the spring. The usual couple of bags of litter were gathered and many suckers were brushcut from beside the hedge allowing the spring plants to grow there.
Plenty of work as we all spread out
There were over a dozen of us at the task morning. Four worked hard all morning washing all the pots and trays that were used for nearly 1000 wildflower plugs that we planted into the meadow last month. The rest of us were in the meadow in small groups. Several were pulling out long pieces of bramble from the copses of trees and adding them to the dead hedges, one was raking up vegetation as another using the brushcutter cut dogwood suckers from beside the native hedge, a few did a litter-pick all round the paths and others cut unwanted blackthorn and elder saplings from the edge of the copse. All this clearing is to allow spring flowers like primroses and wild daffodils to flourish along the edge of the copses and to prevent the meadow from being overrun by trees eventually.
In these troubled times, working outdoors for the meadow group, spread out with plenty of space, seems a pleasant and calming way to spend a few hours.
We held our AGM online via Zoom on 26th October - successfully - but volunteering outdoors appears to be favoured over online meetings, judging by attendances!
Wildflowers planted out after the task morning was rained off
The task morning on Sunday, 4th, was rained off but several of us helped on four weekdays to plant out 986 wildflower plugs into the meadow. These comprised plants grown from seed we had collected from the meadow in summer 2019 and bought native seed. Species planted included Bladder Campion, Chicory and Oxeye daisy. The meadow-edge of the copse was scythed to clear taller vegetation so that some woodland edge plants could be put out: those included Wood Cranesbill and Common St John's Wort. In total 15 different species have been planted out this autumn.
Fine weather for a morning in the meadow
Several members of the group were busy in the meadow this morning: cutting back brambles, pulling nettles and docks, mowing the paths and carrying out a litter-pick. We hope that the farmer will be able to cut and bale the hay in the next few weeks.
Widespread work in the meadow
Nearly a dozen of us were in the meadow today on a breezy but often sunny and warm summer's morning.
We spread out across the meadow to walk from one end to the other pulling up ragwort, cutting off seed heads of docks and pulling up nettles. We had left the ragwort until any cinnabar moth caterpillars had finished feeding on it and we needed to stop the docks from dropping their seeds and spreading too much. Then we moved on to clearing brambles and nettles from growing across the path beside our hedge and branches from swiping people in the face along there.
There are still plenty of plants in flower including scabious, meadow cranesbill and knapweeds.
Back to meeting people in the meadow
It was great to see many of the group again after the four-month gap - and the flowers and the wildlife were wonderful. We appreciated all the colours: yellow, white, blue and purple of Birds-foot trefoil, Meadowsweet, Meadow cranesbill and Knapweed to name a few. Although it was very windy and fairly cloudy there were some butterflies and bees about with House Martins and Swifts overhead - even a Sparrowhawk flew through.
We did do a little work in addition to admiring the wildlife: a litter-pick, trimming branches, brambles and nettles from the path beside the native hedge, mowing and pulling nettles from the main area of the meadow.
Flowers, birds and insects
Another month of lockdown has gone by and again the group didn't meet in the meadow, but flowers continue to come out, birds are around and insects are seen. The blue of Meadow Cranesbill, the yellow of Bird's-foot Trefoil and white of Ox-eye Daisy are now there, along with Small Tortoiseshell, Large Skipper and the first of the Meadow Brown butterflies. There was a Banded Demoiselle damselfly and Swifts have been spotted overhead.
We have managed to keep the paths mowed, hogweed flower-heads cut to control the spread of those plants and several more trays of seedling wildflowers have been pricked out.
Spring in the meadow
Second month of 'lockdown' so the group did not meet on 3rd May. Several photos added to the website: the Bramble leaf miner is almost certainly the larva of the micro moth Stigmella aurella - fascinating how the mine gets wider as the larva grows as it progresses along between the leaf membranes! The dominant colour in the meadow has been yellow with dandelions and buttercups.
We have managed to do some work for, or in, the meadow, observing social distancing and doing a bit of exercise: about 500 wildflower seedlings have been pricked out into pots, the paths have been mowed and hogweed flower heads have been cut off to stop them seeding and taking over in the meadow.
The past month in the meadow
It would have been a lovely morning for tasks in the meadow last Sunday (5th), but it was not to be in these strange times.
So a round up of what people have seen in the meadow since the start of March: seven-spot ladybird, wild daffodils, and alder catkins (all photos on the website), then by mid month there were Dog Violets and Wood Anemone in flower in the copse beside the cycle track. By the end of March Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, primroses, cowslips and an oxslip. There had been celandines for weeks but now the yellow is changing to that of buttercups (Bulbous then Meadow and Creeping in a week or so). Half a dozen Snakes-head Fritillary flowers at the western end escaped trampling by dogs and were reported a couple of days ago.
People are welcome to exercise round the meadow, using the various paths while keeping to the social distancing rules, but please keep dogs under control to minimise damage to the flowers.
On a gap in the stormy weather ...
We split into two groups for the tasks this sunny morning. A small group stayed at Michael and Angela's and planted 20 trays with seeds of 20 species of wild flower. We will be kept very busy pricking them out into pots and later planting them into the meadow if there is good germination! A larger group was in the meadow removing brambles from all the trees beside the cycle path to give more light and air for the early spring flowers such as primroses and violets growing on the ground there.
A large number of people to share out the work ...
Today we had the greatest number of volunteers that we have ever had for a task in the meadow: 19! We welcomed three new visitors and another on their second task morning. I think everyone enjoyed sharing out the jobs.
Some continued with the bramble clearance in various areas: along the southern path, in front of the corner copse and between the interpretation board and the foot bridge. A couple of people walked two circuits, collected all the litter and sorted it for recycling. Meanwhile, others were strengthening part of our hedge with more stakes and branches, and backing it with a dead hedge to deter whoever delights in climbing over our native hedge. One of the hazels was coppiced (it will sprout again) from the main copse beside the cycle path to provide the stakes and branches. Finally, the long strands of cut bramble were put onto the dead hedges beside the cycle path.
An excellent morning's work and we hope the newcomers will return for future tasks in the meadow.
'Green gym' in the meadow
A bit of fresh air and exercise!
A dozen of us were busy in the meadow on various tasks after the Christmas activities. Several people continued clearing brambles that were encroaching onto the path and laying the longest strands onto the dead hedge beside the cycle path. Two groups tidied our native hedge: one where someone had dumped their cut branches and another where the hedge needed some coppicing and laying. A couple of people gathered up two sacks of refuse, cleaning off cans and bottles for recycling.