Tree slime and marsh mud

On Tuesday we were with the Northern Workparty back at Black Brook to do some more work removing conifer regeneration and relieving saplings from the confines of their spiral tree guards. I gave the tool talk to the group; it was just for loppers and bowsaws, and all the volunteers have had them before, but it was good experience for me to have done one, especially with Lucy there to confirm that I covered everything.

Black Brook - an area of deciduous saplings we were working in
Black Brook – an area of deciduous saplings we were working in
Hey there fuzzy guy
Hey there fuzzy guy

There weren’t many conifers to deal with so after tea break it was back to removing tree guards. The slime within them was just as vile and repulsive as before and I’m pretty sure I ended up with some of it on my face (bleurgh!). There were lots of ant nests up within the tree guards and I felt bad about taking them off as it destroyed them. I did my best to leave all the bits from inside the guards in a pile so they should be able to salvage it (I hope anyway).

This was on one of the saplings I was meant to be removing the tree guard from. After a angry wasp appeared I decided to leave it alone
This was on one of the saplings I was meant to be removing the tree guard from. After a angry wasp appeared I decided to leave it alone

As it turned out to be such a nice day we decided to go looking for the Globe Flower. Black Brook is on the southernmost point of this flowers range and it has been recorded in one small patch of meadow. Despite lots of attempts everyone we were with had never actually seen the flower there, even though that small patch is kept as meadow because of the flowers presence. It was our lucky day though and we managed to find one. The whole area was rather stunning with a beautiful display of Bugle, plus Ladys Smock, Ragged Robin and Water Aven. We also caught a glimpse of two deer who have somehow managed to get past all the fencing.

The Globe Flower
The Globe Flower

Despite a cloudy start it turned out to be lovely day and the warmth brought out plenty of inverts. I saw my first Small Heath though despite my best efforts it wouldn’t let me get close enough for a photograph. There were a few different beetles around, Lucy found a rather tatty looking Wood Tiger Moth and we kept one of the volunteers, John, busy identifying spiders.

An obliging female Green-veined White
An obliging female Green-veined White

 

This was a rather gorgeous little chap. He ad a beautiful goldish sheen. I think it's some sort of longhorn beetle but I need to check that out.
This was a rather gorgeous little chap. He had a beautiful goldish sheen. I think it’s some sort of longhorn beetle but I need to check that out.

On Wednesday I took the mid-weekers out all by myself! We were heading back to Stafford to do some more work on the board-walk. A group had been out on Monday to make a start on the platform so I met Shaun before we left so he could explain how far they had got and what we needed to. The platform sounded a little more complicated than the frame we’d put in last week but I was sure I’d taken everything in, and with everyone there it was time to go.

Frame for the platform
Frame for the platform

Once we were there I’m pleased to say everything went well. There weren’t that many volunteers out so we had a group putting in the posts for the platform and another putting boards down. I had a bit of a dither when I realised I didn’t really know anything about drills so wasn’t sure what bit we needed but it all got sorted and that was probably the most stressful part of the day. Everyone was very good with their health and safety too, wearing their hard hats when needed and taking gloves off for using swinging tools. I spent some time helping the group putting the boards down and then flitted between the groups for a while just checking everything was going well. Shaun joined us at lunchtime and in the afternoon we made some ‘feet’ for the corner posts on the platform, to help spread the weight, as it is a rather damp section.

We were back there again on the Thursday to continue with the platform and finish laying the boards for the ‘walk’ part of the board-walk. I must admit that I didn’t actually do that much on Thursday. There were two groups again, one putting in planks and another working on the platform. I helped the platform group with the odd little bit and did some fetching and carrying but I did spend a fair bit of time hovering, not sure where I could lend a hand.

A beautiful day for our last stint on the board-walk
A beautiful day for our last stint on the board-walk

By the end of the day we had all of the boards down for both the path and the platform. All that is left now is for the handrails to be attached and the kicker rails added. Shaun has a few volunteers lined up to help him do those last little bits but the board-walk is now pretty much complete. I really enjoyed having a chance to build something this big and am glad that I could help out with so much of it. I learnt a few things about building things and using tools, as well as having the chance to lead the group so all in all a good experience.

All finished (if you just imagine some handrails on the platform)
All finished (if you just imagine some handrails on the platform)

Beth

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