Wildlife Explorers headed to RSPB Coombes Valley Nature Reserve for a morning of practical conservation work in Bellpit Meadow, a short drive from the Visitor Centre.
The weather gods looked kindly upon the group and we benefitted from yet another dry outdoor session, despite a dubious forecast earlier in the week.
The first task was to plant around 100 hawthorn saplings around the edge of the meadow using a slit planting technique. Warden Paul Bennett demonstrated and then explained how to use the tools correctly.
As well as raking up bramble and nettle that had been cut earlier in the week into habitat piles, the group also used loppers and bow saws to remove some leggy elder bushes that covered the spoil heaps in the meadow. Before being overgrown these areas used to support wildflowers like cowslip. We are hoping the clearance work will allow more light into the area and may encourage some of these species to flower again. Some hawthorn and elder will be left in place as areas for birds to roost and feed.
The work done during this session builds on conservation work our group completed on site last year, and is part of a project creating woodland buffering, vital for wildlife at the periphery of the reserve supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The scrub areas Explorers helped to establish will provide a habitat transition from woodland to meadow rather than existing harsh boundary.
Our Wildlife Explorers group are keen to support the important conservation work done by the team at our closest RSPB reserve and we look forward to be able to return to the main reserve at Coombes Valley for a work party again next year.