I walked to and from town last week and on the return journey I was very surprised to see a Goldcrest in the bushes by the side of the road. It was probably a female as males have a more orange crest. This is the UK’s smallest bird and although not actually rare, in fact the native population is boosted in the winter months by birds from the continent, it is more often found in coniferous woodland than beside the busiest road in town. She was busy searching for small spiders and insects among the bare branches. This sighting really made my day and I wish I had managed to take better photos with my phone.
The task at Little Durnford in 2009 was dedicated to removing tree seedlings from the important hillside grassland. This ranks along with ragwort pulling as a severely boring job – although the views across the Avon valley made up for this. The seedlings were mainly ash and there were thousands of them! The reserve is owned by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and is actually grazed by Jacob’s sheep and also (I think) cattle but obviously they needed a hand!
These photos and the ones done a year earlier at the same reserve are my only record of the hundreds of conservation tasks I did from 1990. I wouldn’t have taken these except I was by then a proud owner of a mobile phone with a camera – now replaced with a smart phone which is even more flexible. I do wish smart phones and blogs were around earlier!
Little Durnford In The Avon Valley was the first nature reserve I worked at in the Autumn of 1990. It was a lovely day with glorious views and I have been a practical wildlife conservationist ever since!
Although it has some nice stands of trees including beech the reserve is managed for the very rich downland above the trees – sheep and cattle are used as part of the management scheme but our group often worked at the site during the Autumn/Winter cutting down tree seedlings (especially ash) and cutting back scrub as it encroached on the grassland.
At the illustrated task the group was clearing up and burning branches from felled trees. The trees were taken down by contractors some time earlier. The slope got steeper as the day went on!
Although I have been working on nature reserves throughout Wiltshire (Southern England) since 1990 I have only photographed work on site during the last couple of years – since attending with a phone in my mobile phone! I am posting several sets of photographs from previous years for completeness. There will probably only one more task for me this year as all major work stops at the end of March to minimise disruption to wildlife: nesting birds etc..
We have just finished our last task of the season at Blackmoor Copse: coppicing a coupe within a deer proof enclosure and cutting back hazel and ash from the side of a ride. This opens out the area for ground flora and butterflies. We left a “pinch point” so that dormouse can cross the ride by way of overhanging branches as they are reluctant to cross on the ground.
Martin Hill is managed by the Government agency Natural England. It is quite a large reserve straddling the Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset borders. We coppiced an area next to a round barrow burial site (by coincidence) to open it out and maintain the maximum diversity of flora and fauna.