A hidden gem…

I spent most of Sunday with the local group I volunteer with, Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers (CNCV). I almost didn’t go; after a long day Osprey sitting on Saturday and getting up early to do a bird survey, part of me just wanted to go home and relax. What a mistake that would have been!

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Wybunbury Moss is a fairly regular haunt for CNCV and it’s always a good task each time we go there. However, this day was special. While I’ve been at plenty of tasks in the woodland and meadows around the outside of the Moss, I’ve never worked on the Moss itself and what a place it is!

The Moss is a schwingmoor or quaking bog – essentially, a glacial depression that has filled with water and then, over time, has been covered in a layer of moss, which in turn has become peat.  This has resulted in what appears to be a solid surface but in fact is just a three metre skin floating on a 13 metre deep lake.  The ‘solid’ surface does indeed quake and visibly wobbles if you jump on it.  It’s not a very safe place to be and is not open to the public but plenty of people in the group have experience of the Moss and know where to go, and more importantly, where not to.

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I arrived late after doing the bird survey and struggled to find the group but I eventually came across them lying in the Sun drinking tea and scoffing biscuits (not an unusual sight). When we decided to get back on with the task (they had already done some work to be fair), we spent the rest of the day pulling pine saplings from the surface of the Moss. Carried on the wind, pine seeds scatter easily and far from their parent trees, growing well where they land. If not controlled every so often, the woodland would start to encroach further and further onto the Moss.

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We spent a few hours in total, under bright blue skies, with a strengthening Sun and fluffy white clouds, pulling the saplings and eventually we cleared them all. We did a final walk around the site just to make sure and then headed home. I parked some distance away, so wandered around the rest of the reserve on the way back.

We recorded a great deal of wildlife while we went about our task, including 31 species of bird, 5 species of butterfly and common lizard. There were also signs of fox, badger and rabbit. However, the most special sighting was of the first swallows of Summer flying past.

The reserve is a truly lovely place to spend a day and standing in the centre I could easily imagine that I was in the middle of the Scandinavian wilderness, particularly when the ravens went ‘cronking’ past. I feel privileged that I could visit a place that not many people can. To be honest, it really was a joyful day – and I was absolutely buzzing (in fact I couldn’t shut up about it!).

So few people seem to know that this place is there – probably a good thing too, as a few visitors would start disappearing if they ventured out onto the Moss. It really is a hidden gem, somewhere special and somewhere worth working for and protecting – and just on my doorstep too!

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