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Deer, Ducks and Dust

Thursday, December 21st 2017

The shortest day of the year may have been dull all day, but there is still plenty of wildlife around, so it has actually been far from a dull day.  Walking out to check on the ponies, three Roe Deer were grazing under the woodland edge of the Sitka Spruce plantation, moving off quietly and with little concern when approached.  They showed no urgency as they sauntered off into the cover of the nearby Willow and Birch trees.  The same could not be said of the Mallards on the wetland pools.  Moving towards the ponies meant that each of the pools progressively emptied of the startled birds, with thirteen taking off in total before a Snipe zigzagged away.

On the whole, the rest of the day has been very productive and started with confirmation of yesterday's identification of the Pestle Puffball.  Although there were not many volunteers in today, practical work focused on continuing the maintenance of the footpath through the moorland.  The last remains of the pile of stone and dust delivered last week has now been moved to create the new surface for the path.  It is important to try to maintain a mix of both stone and dust so that this can be compacted down to create a smooth surface.

If work on the path is on an area that is very wet, both stone and dust can sink in taking large quantities of material and become waterlogged.  Part of the work today has been to dig out ditches near and alongside the path to help drain these areas.  The group doing this said they may be some time, and they actually continued until dusk to be able to do as much of this as they could.  This will help prepare the area for work on the path next week or after the New Year.

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