January 18th: For some days before Sunday’s PLPT work party, the forecast was for day-long rain, leading me to advise potential volunteers that we might have to cancel. On Sunday morning, however, the BBC gave no worse than light cloud, so I emailed all concerned that we’d go ahead. Then I looked out of the window – it was indeed raining.
And so it continued, but Owen & Simon from Hastings Conservation Volunteers were on the spot, ready to give it a go, then Martin turned up armed with fire-lighting materials, confident he could initiate a conflagration whatever the weather. One of our objectives was to burn the heaps of brash left from an earlier session together with raked-up dead leaves and sticks, to leave the ground clear for new growth.
The second objective was to remove a screen of scrubby growth between the canal path and an old, overgrown pond so as to let in more light and open a route for further conservation work. Some of these bushes had grown as high as the phone line, from which they had to be carefully pulled clear as they were felled. Tim had arrived with the requisite chain-saw & ropes to effect this.
In the end, we had ten adult volunteers reinforced by two helpful children. The rain eventually eased off, the pond was opened up and the cuttings all burnt.
Water levels are high on this part of the Trust land, so we couldn’t get to some of the Alders we’d like to cut. Further along the canalside, another large puddle has formed, which regularly attracts drinking Jackdaws, foraging Moorhens & Grey Wagtails.
The next work parties are scheduled (weather permitting) for Sunday February 15th & March 8th. The plan at the moment is to continue work in this same area, opening up the pond still further before migrant breeding birds begin to arrive, and to clear and scrape the old tennis court to recreate the shallow soil which permits the growth of colourful Viper’s Bugloss.