Another wet Friday but 10 volunteers successfully completed tasks to maintain open pathways and to remove invasive species.
BEES have been cutting Japanese Knotweed in several areas of the Reserve for 9 years. Although we can record success it does still continue to grow. The task of controlling it is now made more difficult by the colonisation of other species - nettle is dominant and makes the task uncomfortable.
We also work to control the Himalayan Balsam. This plant is easier to get under control than the Japanese Knotweed but eradication will be difficult as many of the plants are on inaccessible slopes. The site was once used as a rubbish tip and the ground is uneven and unpleasant.
Not much sign of the wildlife that we usually enjoy at the Reserve today, all sensibly hiding from the elements.
Today the focus was on a Breathing Place Open Day. We took the opportunity to survey the plants on the site and carry out pond dipping with visitors, a group from the YMCA and volunteers. Unfortunately we did not see any dragonflies or damselflies but we recorded 26 species of flowering plants, 13 species of pond plants and 21 species of trees on the site. An impressive number for a site so close to the city centre. We also carried out some management of the reserve. This included path maintenance, removal of giant hogweed and clearing around the Medlar tree.
Today we will returned to the charcoal making site. The rain started as we left the van and did not stop until we finished. This did not manage to put us off our task today. During the week the previously prepared kilns were fired, so we set about emptying them and bagging up the produce. This was tricky to keep dry in the rain. We also managed to prepare more wood for future burns.
Fri 26th June 09 : Area of previously cut Bracken which grasses have now been able to colonise. Picture shows removing the young Bracken.
Our first trip of the season to the Baildon Moor site. We were pleasantly surprised that the area we have been cutting has shown a good recovery with a range of plants now recolonising. We worked in three areas, the oldest area required the young bracken to be removed, a previously cut area required thorough raking to remove the thick layers of decomposing matter, and an area which we have only cut once previously was recut.
The work was very physical and we where able to practise our traditional skills of sycthing and raking. The conditions were hot with a high pollen count that was a problem to hay fever sufferers. Today there were 10 volunteers.
Cutting Japanese KnotweedToday we commence our annual programme to control both Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed on the site in order to encourage greater biodiversity. We found that Japanese Knotweed was particularly vigorous in a number of areas, as can been seen from the picture it was taller than we were. The difficulty of the work from stinging nettles and the terrain have been rewarded as the areas of Birch planted six years ago and the Rowan more recently are now growing well enough to compete with the Japanese Knotweed, but we will still knock it back. We mowed the edge of the path for the site which has a good effect on the meadow and opens up the width for the public. A group also cleared the path up to Bolton Road. And I am pleased to report the amount of dog fouling has reduced in response to our efforts to talk to dog walkers and place signs at the entrances.
Today there was 13 volunteers.
See photos of the meadow and Birch trees taken on the day
Today the group split to carry out work at two sites. In the morning one group carried out the finishing touches to the path and steps at the BEES Urban Nature Reserve. This was in readiness for the Breathing Places Open weekend. The end result looked very nice.
The rest of the group returned to Reevy Mill Dam and carried out work to install a bench, we now have three on site, litter collection and repairs to the footpath. There was sad news that a number of the fish had died at the pond, which is being investigated by the Council's Drainage Team and we reported it to the Environment Agency who suggested that the cause may be from lack of oxygen. But good news is that a pair of Canadian Geese have raised a brood of chicks, and appear to be developing well. Which was not surprising given the number of people who came to feed them during the course of the day.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people taking an interest in the wildlife at the pond. This is rewarding news for the volunteers who look after the site and for thanks for our 7 volunteers today.
This is an extra day to ensure the Reserve is good condition for environmental education sessions. As well as practical sessions we will conduct a bird survey and spend time identifying plants, damselflies and butterflies.
Today we made a return to the charcoal making kilns in preparation for our summer production. This involved several operations on the day. First we took two trailer loads of wood up the hill with the aid of Chris and the Land Rover of the Woodlands Team, then we found another trailer load wood at St Ives which was also taken up. This wood was then cut, using bow saws, to a suitable length and split into logs using axes. The kilns were loaded after first cleaning out the airways. Brash from nearby Larch trees was collected and placed inside. On top of this the logs of wood were stacked. At the end we had managed to load both kilns and prepare all the wood taken to site. Today we had 10 volunteers. We will arrange for a burn to take place as soon as possible and will let people know when this will take place so that they join us.
improving the pathwayNine volunteers worked with us today, including three new people.
We had a successful day completing a range of managment tasks to ensure the school are able to use the wildlife area for play and education. In the long term the school hope to do the majority of the work with the pupils but they feel they are still a little way from embedding this in the curriculum. In the meantime they are very appreciative of the work of BEES volunteer team, it is also great for us to be able to see how the site is maturing and being used. It is obvoiuusly precious the the children, and has captured their imagination - two girls came running to protect the trees because they thought we were trolls cutting them down! Umm.
We cut and mowed the orchard area, thinned a few birch trees that were over hanging the path, put more bark on the path and completed the work to cut and weave the willow fence. Some of the willow harvested will be used by the school to make geodesic domes and we will use some to make drawing charcoal - one of our tasks today was to strip the bark off the willow whilst it was fresh.