I’m sensing a theme with the reserves names here! As you may have guessed from the title I’ve been to two different reserves whilst volunteering this week.
On Wednesday we headed over to Thorswood. I’ve visited Thorswood before, when we were creating a break in the gorse, but this week we were down at the bottom of the hill on the other side of the reserve. The area where we were working seems to be a mix of grass and heathland. Some Heather was battling to grow amongst some young birch trees so we were there to give it a helping hand. By clearing the smaller, younger birch trees we hoped to open the land up and give the heather a better chance to grow (there were other plants as well which clearing the birch will help, but I’m not a very good Botanist). We left the larger birch trees, and any oaks we found as there were only a few of them, and with the denser younger trees cleared, they would have little impact on vegetation on the ground.
There were plenty of signs of the pigs that used to be kept on the reserve, but not many signs of other wildlife. I can’t wait for the warmer weather when there will be inverts everywhere I turn. I was passed a spider at lunchtime, as at that point I’d seen nothing else, and after lunch I stalked a fluttering form to find my first moth of the year! There are Woodcock at Thorswood, but I think they’d been scared off by the time I went to look for them. If we go to Thorswood again I’ll make sure looking for them is the first thing I do! We were also treated to a small murmuration of starlings in the distance as we ate our lunch.
Thursday saw us at Bateswood. We were working on the opposite side of the plateau to where I’d been previously, in a large grassy area that is known for it’s wildflowers. At the right time of year it’s possible to see masses of Burnet moths emerging amongst the orchids; a sight that the volunteer party has been lucky to see in previous years. As normal we were there to remove vegetation; this time trees that had started growing out in the middle of the grassy area. As it’s such a good area for flowers we couldn’t burn the brash, instead we had to chop it up and drag it into the trees around the edges of the grassland.
It was a beautiful day, with blue skies and only the faintest drizzle of rain for all of a minute. The suns warmth hinted at spring being not too far around the corner and we were serenaded, as we worked, by the birds hiding in the woods around the edge. I’m slightly torn at the moment; I long for snow, a proper heavy fall that will last for longer than an hour, but I’m also aware of the effects it could have on all the wildlife that is slowly emerging. If it’s going to snow it needs to do it soon, so that it’s impact is as minimal as possible, and if it isn’t then hurry up spring!