24 Feb 2020

Working Party Report: Saturday 22nd February 2020

By Committee Member Josephine Eaton-Brown

The bivouac and firepit. No idea where it came from; any takers?
Highlights from this working party session included finding a secret camp beneath the invasive laurel jungle, seeing a sparrowhawk and a goldcrest as we went about our work and enjoying a rare dry day outdoors in February, with some even rarer sunny spells!!

On arriving, committee member Mike had already got a good bonfire going despite the wet ground and was making good progress against the matted twists and tangles of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum and Cherry laurel. Myself and my husband James joined the group to make five, including fellow committee member Jenny and her dog Poppy, who was busy collecting sticks and wondering what on earth we were all up to!

We were joined later in the day by another local resident, Lucy, and between us we cleared another good section of laurel and rhododendron that has completely taken over parts of the woodland. By clearing it, we will increase the space and light for native woodland species to thrive once more and regenerate naturally which in turn will increase biodiversity, not only in the wood but in the surrounding countryside too!
We were treated to a close view of a sparrowhawk that flew out right in front of Mike and James. We also encountered a beautiful little goldrest, heard first by James and spotted shortly after hopping about in the branches above our heads as if to inspect our work.

Signs of spring; the bluebells are on their way!
Between us we felled, lopped, sawed and burned, not only a great deal of rhody but a lot of calories too! It's a good workout, and a hugely rewarding experience. Personally, I find it's a great way to switch off from the worries of the week and simply focus on the here and now task in hand. There's time to chat and catch up with neighbours or plod away with your tasks, quietly daydreaming about how the wood will look when all the hard work is complete. It's satisfying to know that the work we do now will help protect and preserve this woodland for the community long into the future.

There's not much better than the unique afterglow of a day spent working in the outdoors and giving back to nature and the community. We have just a few more sessions left before we have to stop as we come into bird nesting season and it would be great to see some good volunteer turnout. We welcome newcomers whether you have half an hour or a whole day to give. We usually have some spare tools, or you can bring your own loppers, and there's always a job for everyone, no matter age or ability.

The next working parties are on 01/03/2020 and 15/03/2020. We meet by the pond from 11am. If you have any questions about the working parties please do get in touch.

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