I spent today with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers working on some private land at Oakmere. We’ve been going there for three or four years now and have helped to restore a schwingmoor, or quaking bog. Now that we’ve cleared the bog of the larger birch saplings, our tasks are spent ensuring birch doesn’t recolonise and take over again. This is one location were we really can see the difference our efforts make.
The location is also lovely, a lakeside woodland approached through meadows with the bog in the middle. The woodland is full of birdlife and we had great views of young green woodpeckers and listened to the chorus of birds throughout the day.
We finished at about 15:00 after spending the day in the hot sun, so I popped into the nearby farm shop for some ice cream – yum!
I’ve spent today on a task with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers (CNCV) at a forest school near Barthomley. We spent a few hours coppicing, dead-hedging, making stakes and clearing nettles. The stand out for the day really was the weather, however, a really lovely spring day. The sun came out, giving real warmth, clouds were lighter and fluffier than they have been for a long time, and the birds were in full song. The plants were also really starting to show spring growth with some trees breaking into leaf and the wild garlic and bluebells growing on the woodland floor.
The afternoon was so nice, I actually sat in my deckchair in the back garden when I got home – if only my cold had gone away, it would have been a perfect day!
I was up early today and out of the house an hour after dawn to do the first of four breeding bird surveys at Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Bagmere reserve. I’ve been doing the surveys at the site for a few years now and it’s always nice to get started with them – one of the first tasks in my spring and summer of conservation volunteering.
The morning was chilly at first but the temperatures started to rise quickly and with a watery sun adding to the relative warmth, spring appeared to have sprung as I made my way into the reserve. The spring was also evident in the birds, even before I started the survey. There were some displaying lapwings looping over a nearby stubble field and there were plenty of birds singing the dawn chorus in the surrounding woods.
Into the reserve and there were a good number of birds to record with many of the usual species flitting or flying around the meadows, woods and fen. Of particular interest were a couple of water rail, a nice mixed flock of siskins and redpolls, some singing reed buntings and a few snipe flushed from the wet ground.
The scene was set at Bagmere for the spring migrants to arrive, making the intensity of the dawn chorus even greater and bringing even more vibrancy to the reserve.
After the survey, I went to volunteer with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers at Wybunbury Moss and spent the morning and early afternoon clearing and burning trees from the woodland edge. This work will help other migrant birds by providing better breeding conditions in the thick cover than will grow in the space left behind.
Not finished for the day, I then went out on my bike for 20 miles, peddling around the Cheshire countryside on the last light of what felt like the first proper weekend of spring – it can only get better from here (hopefully!).
In many ways hopefully not…but today was a little glimpse through the window of the recent gloomy conditions into what spring could be.
I was out with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers today working on a task at Wybunbury Moss. We spent the day clearing scrub from one of the large fields around the outside of the Moss, helping to keep the meadow wet, and then burning the resulting brash. The wind was keen at times but the clouds broke to reveal both the sun and lovely blue skies.
I usually forget but today I remembered to take along some hotdogs for cooking on the fire – one of my favourite things to do!
Afterwards I went out for a pedal on my bike taking advantage of the lighter evening due to the clear skies and the slowly drawing out sunset time.
It’s not spring yet but today it felt very close – certainly much closer than it has recently.
Yesterday I was out with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers on a task at a new location for the group. We spent the day at Dairy House Farm, near Winsford; a farm under the higher level stewardship scheme, which as well as breeding livestock also has a farm school.
We spent the day clearing the regrowth of an old hedge line. It had orginally been removed to reduce cover for predators which had been taking the chicks of declining numbers of waders breeding in the wet meadows.
After doing some work this morning, I turned up late for today’s Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers’ task at Sound Common. Working for Cheshire East Council, we spent the day removing birch saplings and clearing brambles. Some of us also moved the soil left over from the machines which had scraped off the surface of the heathland, revealing bare earth on which the heather can regenerate – I love a bit of wheelbarrowing!