Having a Clear-out

Thursday, December 28th 2017

Although Thursday is one of the regular Volunteer Days, it wasn't really surprising that there was only one volunteer in today, as other volunteers and staff were still enjoying the Christmas festivities and holidays.  So it was a day for small tasks which were important but with no power tools or machinery required. 

The first was to clear two areas of Willow and Birch which were encroaching on to the Scrapes.  These had established in two of the channels that connect the ponds, and the channels will need further clearance to make sure that the water drains properly through this area.  It took about 40 minutes to work through the areas with loppers and bowsaws, making the channels easier to see so that management work can now be identified.

The cut Willow and Birch (and the odd small Ash) were stacked to one side among the pollarded willow, and will be used to make lengths to replace dead hedging around the Reserve.  Despite the activity, there were still plenty of birds around, including a male Blackbird tucking in to one of the apples on a Water Vole raft and a female Kestral using a taller Birch as a viewing point.

The next job was to move onto a patch of Gorse growing next to the path near to Hague Bridge.  This was started just before breaking for lunch, and a chance encounter.  Two of today's visitors have also been sponsoring a couple of the ponies used by the Yorkshire Exmoor Pony Trust, who own Lark and Taurus.  While we quickly established that these were not the two who were being sponsored, they were hoping to get a glimpse of the two Exmoors, so there was an impromptu check on the ponies which also involved feeding a small amount of carrot to them.

Going back to the patch of Gorse, most was cleared during the afternoon and thanks must go to Peter as the lone volunteer who cleared a large part of this while the visit to see the ponies was taking place.  This has opened up the area to allow room for the trees in this area to grow and to encourage plants to grow and flower.  The Gorse will be allowed to dry and then will be taken to be burnt when other areas of Gorse are cleared on the Moorland.

Despite the limited numbers, today has been a successful day when much has been achieved, members of the public have been able to be involved in how the Reserve is being managed, and we can move on to look at the next management tasks.

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