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Good turnout despite the rain
The cold, frosty weather of the past few days was replaced with light rain on and off and cool, but above freezing, temperatures this morning. It was surprising that as many as nine keen (or crazy) people appeared at the meadow to help.
We tackled several tasks: brushcutting beside the native hedge and raking up the cut dogwood saplings and grass; pulling, cutting and removing brambles from amongst the trees in the copses; pulling up nettles to allow the snowdrops to shoot under the trees; and coppicing one of the hazels, piling the branches onto our dead hedges.
Oaks, walnuts and nettles
It was a pleasant morning in the meadow with sunshine, a breeze and, for a change no rain . There were about ten of us and for most of the time we split into three groups.
Victor brought along some trees he had grown from seed in pots: a couple of oaks and walnut were planted into the cleared area in front of the felled willow.
Steve had cut a small patch of grass in the main meadow earlier in the week. This was to see if we can bring more diversity into the grassy areas where the wildflowers don't seem to take hold, by reducing the grass there. This patch was then mowed short and the cuttings raked away.
A great many stinging nettles were pulled up from two of the scallops we had created in the bramble scrub belt. Our earlier plan had been to cut down sections of the thickets of old brambles so that they would re-shoot with vigorous young growth but the nettles had moved in, smothering the brambles. We will have to keep removing many of the nettles until the brambles have regrown.
Plenty of tasks completed this morning
Nine of us were busy doing lots of different jobs around the meadow this morning.
A small area of scrub beside the copse was brush-cut to allow wild daffodil bulbs then to be planted, the hedge path was also brush-cut, raked and trimmed back, the verge and some paths were mown, brambles were cut and pulled out of the copse, cut vegetation was removed to the compost heaps and a litter-pick was completed.
A small team had raked up left-over hay from the meadow several weeks ago.
We were amazed at how much the vegetation has grown this year, probably due to the sometimes hot, sometimes wet, weather this summer. We were also pleased that there was not a great deal of litter in the last couple of months.
The hay has been cut ...
... and the farmer will return soon to bale and remove it. Unfortunately, the hay cannot be used for feed or even bedding for animals as it is always contaminated with dog faeces. We think that it is a great pity that the hay from the meadow cannot be used.
There will be work for us raking up the bits that the baler misses later in the week, but today there were just eight of us tidying up round the field edges and by the log seats. We cut off overhanging brambles, and nettles, and collected litter.
The sun shone and it was rather warm: a pleasant September morning after a generally dismal August.
A good session in the meadow
Just over a dozen of us achieved quite a lot this morning, mostly cutting or digging. There was cutting off of seed heads of dock to prevent it spreading everywhere, digging up/pulling up ragwort and stinging nettles now that caterpillars have finished feeding on them, and cutting off overhanging brambles and other vegetation from the edges of the paths and copse. The grass was mowed along the cycle path verge and other paths, plus checking round for any litter. We also planted a shrubby willow alongside the river bank and a honeysuckle beside the cycle path. When the honeysuckle flowers it should add colour and scent as it climbs up a hawthorn tree in the copse.
As it was the final day of Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count for this year we kept an eye out for insects flying about when the sun came out occasionally, species included Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue.
A picnic after some light work in the meadow
There were several of us enjoying the sunshine at the meadow this morning. We tidied up the paths, mowing them and trimming overhanging vegetation and branches, and picking up litter. After a walk round admiring the flowers and butterflies - we were especially pleased to see the large patches of betony in flower - we then shared a tasty picnic around one of the log seats.
On a warm, sunny Summer's day ...
Nearly a dozen volunteers gathered in the meadow to spruce up the area. Our main task was cutting off hogweed flowering heads so that the seeds don't spread plants all round the meadow. We dealt with many of them but there are still quite a few to tackle. There was a litter pick and the verge and main path were mowed. Some non-native spanish bluebells were removed and vegetation cleared from various areas including path edges. We saw a few butterflies and damselflies e.g. a female Orange Tip and a Holly Blue but we wish there were more insects.
Various jobs around the meadow
The main job in the meadow today was removing hogweed flower heads so that they don't seed - although the white umbellifer flowers are pretty and useful for insects - we don't want the plants to take over the meadow. We compromise by letting them flower in the scrubby areas round the edges.
Another task was pulling up young nettles from our newly-cut scallops in the scrub belt - this is in the hope of tipping the balance towards the new shoots of brambles there, rather than so many nettles.
The strimmer was used to cut some patches of coarser grass still growing in parts of the meadow. Over many years the management of the meadow has reduced the incidence of coarser grasses in favour of shorter, finer grasses allowing space for our wild flowers to spread and flourish.
We were pleased that we didn't find too much litter to pick up this month, though that might be due to the weather causing fewer people to walk through. Today was better with the sun coming out bringing a few butterflies like Orange-tip, Peacock and Tortoiseshell.
After the record rains of March ...
... the paths are a little muddy in the meadow, but at least the wood chips spread last month at the entrances have helped !
Several of us achieved quite a bit this morning. Three more scallops of bramble and grass have been cut from the scrub belt, finishing the work along that section for this season. A couple of us pulled up young nettles from the cycle path side of the copse to keep that area clear for the wild flowers. There was only one small bag of litter collected - the weather had probably been too wet for people to walk or sit around dropping litter.
We also spent a while looking around the meadow, admiring the cowslips and snakeshead fritillaries just coming into bloom.
Spreading wood chips
There were about nine of us on the task and we spread out wood chips over the mud
at both entrances at the town end of the meadow as well as the entrance
from Long Close Green. Some surplus was laid in Baydons Wood on a muddy
stretch of the path.
We also cut two new bays in the brambles along the
top edge of the meadow and did a litter pick.
An active morning
Just over a dozen of us made good progress in the meadow on a pleasant sunny winter's morning.
We cut and cleared more vegetation to form scallops along the scrub belt and the brushcutter was used to clear the rank grass and bramble stumps. When the brambles regrow they should be young and vigorous, forming cover for insects and birds as well as producing tasty blackberries in a year or two.
A few people were involved in coppicing a large hazel in the copse alongside the cycle path to let in more light for the ground flora where the snowdrops are just coming into bloom.
Another few tidied a section of native hedge by hedge-laying several hawthorns, another two picked up a sackful of litter and various cuttings were tidied into habitat piles.
A pleasant workout in the sun
Half a dozen of us spent a pleasant morning clearing brambles from another area along the scrub belt. The weather was kind for a change - no rain - and it was gentle exercise to ease us back in after Christmas and New Year.