On a splendid sunny autumn morning the eight voluneers entered the Blue Beck Copse with a plan to do some coppicing. The day was cold but sunny and quite sheltered within the trees. Unfortunately after a brief inspection we first had to clear up after someone’s ‘picnic’, with a mix of detritus from cans, food containers, clothing and rubbish that was spread across several square metres to bag up and dispose of. We also found that the bullocks had managed to push down the fence and trampled through, although the actual damage was minimal and probably less that the human predecessors.
We also found that we had clear access to the hedge plants of hazel and hawthorn we’d put in a couple of years earlier and these could be straightened and re-staked using hazel poles to being the hedge between the copse and New Meadow back. Mark and Masha bravely used a brick as a hammer to do this! More inter-planting will be considered over the winter.
In the twenty-odd years since it was first planted the copse has been coppiced on a number of occasions and the hazel stools were quite evident, along with the willow that had been similarly treated. More hazel and willow were cut back bringing a pleasant sylvan light amongst the remaining trees and stools. The nest boxes were also in one piece but need checking and cleaning over winter.
The area has obviously got a number of rabbits and foxes, from the number of holes to trip over if not paying attention, but upon lifting an old half of clay plant pot it was discovered that a small mammal had made a nest of moss and feathers, and there were a range of birds nests from couple of feet above ground and upwards. The benefits of managing it in the manner we have done were clear.
All being well, on Friday 24th November a small group of us will be attempting to repair and fix the remaining barn owl box in position in the Copse Meadow (If we have time afterwards we’ll also carry on coppicing in the Blue Beck Copse). The next Sunday work party is on the 3rd December where we can test out the new waders funded by the Freshwater Habitats Trust Flagship Pond Scheme as we make further attempts to reduce the Typha invasion from the extended Water Vole scrape in the Reservoir Basin.
Thanks to Masha, Judi, Julie and Mark, Pete, Helen and Mark T for all their enthusiastic hard work. Many hands have brought light to the copse!