With the week in Devon and then my chainsaw course I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms from the lack of time out on the reserves. I’ve been in Somerset for less then five months but I’ve fallen in love with the place, especially Mendip. I really do miss the reserves when I don’t get a chance to go out on them; this week I spent a day in the office working on a few different things and I was feeling pretty desperate to get outside by the end of the day. So I’ve been feeling pretty happy that over the last week and a bit I’ve been able to get back out to some of my favourite places and get my hands dirty.
Straight after passing my chainsaw course I was trusted to use one out on the reserves with Liz. We were clearing fallen trees off of fence lines, making it easier for when the contractor comes in to replace them. I’ll admit I was slightly nervous about using the chainsaw away from a training/assessment situation but we were only cross cutting and I got happily stuck in. I still haven’t quite got over how ridiculously heavy and sweaty chainsaw trousers are though!
One of my days with Liz was spent doing the rounds of a few East Mendip reserves, checking various things and continuing to put up the Welcome and Thank You discs at reserve entrances. Other tasks included looking to see what winter work is needed at Yarley, measuring trees to work out if a felling license is needed for thinning in the woods at Greylynch, checking condition of tracks and seeing if stock were still grazing.
This week has been pretty scrub clearing heavy (’tis the season and all). On Monday we spent time at both Yarley Fields and Cockles Fields, going over regrowth. I’m enjoying that I get to see these reserves in different seasons as they change so much. Yarley is one of my favourite reserves on East Mendip mostly because of the huge amount of butterflies I saw there a few months ago, but it’s very different now. Everywhere is looking a little drab and lifeless but a closer look shows lots of fungi in the grass and at Cocklesfields there were still a few flowers in bloom. Yesterday I created a massive mess with a chainsaw at Draycott Sleights. All four of us (Liz, James, Neil and I) spent the day there removing some Hawthorn from the bottom slope. Four people armed with chainsaws can make some serious progress in one day! It was hard work, and I lost count of the number of times I got stabbed. I was so focussed on the work though I was pretty much oblivious to the rain and wind, so it isn’t all bad. The walk back up to the Land Rover was a pretty hard slog – that slope is the one downside to working on Draycott. The weather couldn’t have been any different today. James and I were at Mascall’s Wood burning what had been felled earlier in the week. Despite it being mid November we sat and ate our lunch in just tshirts. I had my first attempt at lighting the fire, and failed, though even once James got it going it was still rather pathetic and took up until lunchtime until it really got going (so I felt a little better at failing). Mascall’s was looking lovely though in all the autumn colours and with a great view down across Cheddar reservoir.
I have spent a bit of time in the office, working on my volunteer management course, and I sat in on a meeting about a possible event on a reserve next year (Was a bit of an eye opener on just how much needs to be considered when planning an event) but I did get a chance to go out and play in-between. I took the Landy to put the discs up at Kings Castle Wood. I managed to get there without doing a magical mystery tour of Wells and then had a lovely walk around the reserve. I’d only ever been to the very first entrance to the reserve before so it was nice to have a good walk round. There was even a nuthatch flitting amongst the trees along the path, which is always a welcome sight.
I’m not entirely sure of next weeks plans but I think I’m back to being out on the reserves for the majority of the time which is all good with me 🙂
Oh, before I forget, look who appears in the latest Somerset Wildlife Trust magazine!
Recent Wildlife Highlights ( I may make this a new section at the end of each blog post)
– Hare startled from the grass it was sheltering in, by some inquisitive cows on Yoxter
– Kestrel hunting in the field adjacent to Yarley Fields
– Pied Wagtail coming very close to landing on the bonnet of the Land Rover at Kings Castle Woods